Well I can’t believe that it is almost four years since I wrote one of these Learn To Drive Tips. Anyway I hope some of you will enjoy reading and may even learn a little bit.

Question: How do the speed change signs work in the UK? What do I even mean by this? Let’s clarify, the images below are all taken from the same road in Lichfield. PS I love Google Street View 🙂

In the picture above there are two 40 mph signs; notice that they are fairly large and there’s one each on posts on right and left side of the road – opposite each other. This is typically how a change is notified to the driver. So the speed limit will be 40 mph until the next change sign on this road or when you turn off into a different one.

In contrast, the above image shows a 40 mph repeater; this is not a change but a helpful reminder of the current speed limit. Notice that the sign is fairly small and although there is one on the LHS, there isn’t one on the right.

Personally I would like to see a few more of these, but there seems to be little consistency with repeaters; some roads have a repeater every 100 yards and sometimes you can drive for miles and not see one. They seem to happen more often when a limit has been changed. So a road that was previously signed as national speed limit and has been changed to 50 or 40 mph, you are much more likely to see repeaters.

The last shot shows a view into a side road and you can clearly see two change signs. So here the speed limit is changing (from 40 mph) to 30 mph. Incidentally if you were to look at the reverse of these signs, you would see two 40 mph signs – showing the change in the other direction.

So how can this help a new driver.

First of all, look out for change signs and repeaters. Nobody will see every sign but if you try, you will see more. Notice that most appear at junctions, either before a junction or just after. Don’t forget that they are also painted on the road sometimes, see below.

If you find yourself on a road and you are not sure what the speed limit is, then look for evidence. The best way is to look down a side road and see if there are any change signs. If there are no change signs then the limit should be the same on both roads. However if there are change signs then you certainly know that the limit on the road you are on is different and this will always help to work it out.

Other clues would be:

Are there lampposts? If there are none, then this indicates national speed limit – although some of these roads have a few lampposts to illuminate junctions.
Is it a built up area? Houses close to the road indicate 30 mph, although some could be 20 mph (as above). Footpaths on both sides of the road would also indicate a built up area.

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