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What is the speed limit for a van?

If you’re driving a commercial vehicle, you can’t legally drive as fast as you can in a car. Here's which speed limits apply...

Mercedes Citan 2022 front left tracking

Getting a fine and points for speeding in your van is always going to make you feel hard done by. “Why me?”, you may cry. But the truth is, there really is one for rule for some, and one rule for others, because vans are often subject to different speed limits than cars, and these limits are often lower. What’s more, these lower limits apply to pick-up trucks and vehicles that are towing trailers

Ignorance is no excuse, so it’s any driver’s responsibility to know what the speed limit is for their vehicle, be it a van or one of the others already mentioned, even if you don’t drive them regularly. So, the next time you hire a van, tow a trailer, or borrow a friend’s pick-up, it’ll pay to read up on what limits apply in different areas. That’s why we’ve published the speed limits that apply to these types of vehicle.

However, something else to bear in mind is not what you’re driving, but where you’re driving it. That’s because Wales has different speed limits in Wales from Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. If you’re in any doubt about what limits apply, then look up the Government’s website, and you’ll have all the information you need.

Motorway speed limits for vans

Kia Soul EV on the motorway - front

If you regularly drive your van on the motorway, the good news is that in most cases the speed limit is 70mph. This limit applies if you’re driving a small van, a medium-sized van, dual-purpose vehicle, or a goods vehicle up to 7.5 tonnes.

So, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a Dacia Duster Commercial, Toyota Corolla Commercial or a double-cab pick-up truck, such as the Ford Ranger. As long as it weighs less than 2040kg unladen, the 70mph limit will apply. And if you’re driving a goods vehicle (aka a large van) that weighs less than 7500kg, then you can still legally drive at 70mph on the motorway.

Meranwhile, if you’re driving a motorhome on the motorway, you can do 70mph whether or not the vehicles weighs more or less than 3.05 tonnes. And finally, if you’re driving a bus that is less than 12 metres long, then the 70mph limit applies, but if it’s more than 12m long, then you must not travel faster than 60mph.

Dual-carriageway speed limits for vans

Ford E-Transit front - Large Van of the Year

This is where things start to become a little more tricky, because if you’re driving a smaller van or a dual-purpose vehicle, then the maximum speed you can travel on a dual carriageway is 70mph, but if you’re in a medium van such as the Volkswagen Transporter, or a large van (think Ford E-Transit), then the maximum speed limit is suddenly 60mph. 

Some pick-up trucks will also be subject to the 60mph limit on a dual carriageway. This limit will apply if the truck is a single-cab truck, and if it weighs more 2040kg, because this means it isn’t a dual-purpose vehicle. 

A minibus that’s less then 12m long must also drive at a maximum of 60mph, the same as larger buses.

Single-carriageway speed limits for vans

As you’d expect, the lower the road classification, the slower the speed limit becomes. So, when you get on to single-carriageway roads, the limit for car-derived small vans and dual-purpose vehicles becomes 60mph.

Any van weighing up to 7.5 tonnes is limited to a maximum of 50mph, although this limit also applies to vehicles that weigh more than 7.5t, unless they’re in Scotland, where a 40mph limit is in force.

And buses must do a maximum of 50mph, no matter whether they’re longer or shorter than 12m.

Speed limiters are mandatory for any vehicle that can carry more than eight passengers, but even if one is fitted the driver remains responsible for the speed of the vehicle.

Van speed limits in built-up areas

Nissan Townstar EV rear cornering

This is when it pays to know the speed limits in the area you’re driving in. 

So, if you’re driving in a built-up area in Scotland, England or Northern Ireland, then the maximum speed limit is 30mph. However, if you’re in Wales, a blanket 20mph limit applies in any built-up area. 

These limits apply regardless of the size, weight or classification of the vehicle you’re driving.

Van speed limits when towing

tow bar

If you’re towing a trailer (including driving an articulated vehicle), then a good rule of thumb is to knock 10mph off the speed limit that applies when you’re not towing.

So, if you can usually do 70mph on the motorway when not towing, you’ll be limited to 60mph with a trailer. And if you’d normal adhere to a 60mph limit on a single-carriageway road, then a 50mph limit will apply when towing.

These towing limits are lower to minimise the chances of the trailer starting to ‘snake’, and to give you more chance to get everything back on the straight-ahead.

However, when you get to built-up areas, the normal limits will be in force, dependent on whether you’re driving in Scotland, England or Northern Ireland (30mph) or Wales (20mph).

Renault Kangoo front - Small Van of the Year

Van speed limit FAQs

Do speed cameras recognise vans?

Yes, many do. Speed-detection systems are becoming ever-more advanced, and are linked to the ANPR database, so they know what the vehicle is, and what speed limit it should be adhering to. 

How far away can speed vans detect?

Speed camera vans are now so advanced that they can now detect you more than a mile away. However, they work only on a straight road, because they cannot yet see round corners.

Can you check if you’ve been caught speeding?

No, there is no way to do this. The only way you’ll know if you’ve been caught is when the Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) is posted through your letterbox.

How much does three points affect insurance?

For a start, you must tell your insurer or your fleet manager if you receive an NIP. Three points will affect your insurance by around 5%. However, get done a second time, and your insurance cost is likely to jump by as much as 25% come renewal time.

Can I apply to do a speed-awareness course?

No, you cannot ask to do this. This is offered at the discretion of the police, and there are a few criteria, which vary from force to force. You must have been caught doing less than 10% plus 9mph over the limit, and it must be your first speeding offence in the past three years. Speeding must also be the only offence you were committing at the time.

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