The speed limit is the maximum speed allowed on a road. It is usually denoted by signs along the road, often with a maximum speed figure, such as “50”, “60”, or “75”. The goal of a speed limit is to protect those who use the road from harm.
Speed limits are set by law and enforced by police in most countries with a system of fines for speeding; for example, within European Union member states the general speed limit for cars and vans is 50 km/h (31 mph) and for motorcycles 30 km/h (19 mph).
The decision to set a particular speed limit is based on many factors: engineering considerations can include terrain, curve radius, crash history and safety record of vehicles traveling at higher speeds; while social considerations can include public opinion, political pressure and conformity with other jurisdictions.
Speed limits may also be set by regulatory policy, well below the actual operating speeds of vehicles (e.g. minimum speeds), or set at the discretion of local authorities within an area without reference to national law.
Last modified: August 1, 2022