What is the speed limit for a van?

Van speed limits are typically lower than for cars, although there are exceptions. Read on to find out more...

Vauxhall Combo Cargo front

The answer you weren’t expecting is that van speed limits are lower than for cars. 

Yes, that’s right: van drivers – often found in the far right lane of the motorway – are meant to travel slower than a passenger car.

And it’s not just vans that these rules apply to; pick-up trucks can fall under the same rules too, and if the speeding charge reaches court, the penalties can be even more severe than for car drivers. Points on your licence will be a minimum, and you could also face a fine of up to £2500.

Van speed limit rules

The general rule is that vans must travel 10mph less than cars on main roads, but in towns and cities a van can still travel at the 30mph limit, the same as a car.

On single-carriageway roads displaying the national speed limit sign, vans are limited to 50mph. The same rule applies on a dual carriageway, where the speed limit is 70mph for a car, but is 60mph for a van. On a motorway, a van is typically allowed to run to the 70mph speed limit, the same as a car.

However, there are specifics that add further complexity.

Small vans can be classified as car-derived vans and allowed to drive at car speed limits if they are listed as CDV on the V5C registration form. These are vans like the Ford Fiesta Van or the Vauxhall Corsavan, but can also include very small models no longer on sale like the Fiat Fiorino, Peugeot Bipper and Citroën Nemo.

There are also slightly larger vans that are used as cars. New vans like the Vauxhall Combo, Renault Kangoo or Citroën Berlingo and Peugeot Partner are all available with passenger carrying versions that can qualify as cars if they have a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of less than two tonnes. The crucial check is that they must also be listed as CDV in the V5C.

The rest of the speed limits for other vans are far more straightforward. Small, medium and large vans must all travel at the reduced speed limit. Whether you have a 3.5-tonne van like a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Ford Transit or Volkswagen Crafter, or a mid-sized Ford Transit Custom, Renault Trafic or Vauxhall Vivaro, you’ll often be travelling 10mph less than the rest of the traffic.

Dual-purpose van speed limit exemptions

There is another exemption to be aware of: dual-purpose vehicles under 2040kg don’t have to comply with the reduced speed limit.

What is a dual-purpose vehicle? Well, a campervan is a dual-purpose vehicle providing the V5C registration document says it is a 'motor caravan', but if it is a non-manufacturer conversion, it may not be classed as one and could still be registered as an LCV and therefore subject to their rules.

Kombi vans or double-cab vans are also dual-purpose. Their extra row of seats makes them exempt from the rules, providing they are below the 2040kg unladen weight rule.

Pick-up truck speed limits

Speed limits for pick-up trucks are just as complicated, although on the whole they are allowed to travel at the same speed as cars because most are designed to just sneak under the weight threshold.

Pick-ups classified solely for commercial use are typically limited to single-cab pick-ups, as the lack of a rear set of seats makes them very obviously not a dual-purpose vehicle.

There are also exceptions for those pick-ups that weigh over 2040kg and this can catch out a few of the very high-end models. Check the unladen weight of the vehicle and make sure it is below the limit.

Van speed limits – the general rules

Built-up areas and cities – 30mph
Single-carriageway roads – 50mph
Dual-carriageway roads – 60mph
Motorways – 70mph

On a normal road, remember that a van cannot travel more than 50mph. If it’s not a motorway, no matter how many lanes it has, the speed limit is 60mph.

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