Speed limits and penalties for breaking them

Appropriate speed limits are important for safety and environmental reasons. Speed limits vary according to the type of vehicle you are driving and the nature of the road. You must not exceed the maximum speed limits set for the road and your vehicle.

Consequences of speeding

Excessive speed is a significant factor in collisions and has a huge impact on the severity of injuries sustained.

Speeding means that you will have much less time to react to driving conditions. It also means that if you have a collision it will be much more violent and more likely to result in serious or fatal injuries.  

Be aware that:

  • at 20 mph a child hit by a vehicle has a 90 per cent chance of survival
  • at 30 mph a child hit by a vehicle has a 50 per cent chance of survival
  • at 40 mph a child hit by a vehicle has a 10 per cent chance of survival

Slow down - and allow for other people’s mistakes.

Speed limits

Type of vehicle Built-up areas*
mph (km/h)
Single carriageways
mph (km/h)
Dual carriageways
mph (km/h)
Motorways
mph (km/h)
Cars and motorcycles
(including car-derived vans up to 2 tonnes maximum laden weight)
30
(48)
60
(96)
70
(112)
70
(112)
Cars towing caravans or trailers
(including car-derived vans and motorcycles)
30
(48)
50
(80)
60
(96)
60
(96)
Buses, coaches and minibuses
(not exceeding 12 metres in overall length)
30
(48)
50
(80)
60
(96)
70
(112)
Goods vehicles
(not exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight)
30
(48)
50
(80)
60
(96)
70
(112)**
Goods vehicles
(exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight)
30
(48)
40
(64)
50
(80)
60
(96)

* The 30 mph limit usually applies to all traffic on all roads with street lighting unless signs show otherwise.

** 60 mph (96 km/h) if articulated or towing a trailer.

You can find out more information in sections 117 to 126 (control of the vehicle) of The Highway Code.

Notice of Intended Prosecution

Within 14 days of a camera recording an alleged speeding offence, a notice of intended prosecution will be issued to the registered keeper of the vehicle. This notice will contain:

  • the vehicle details
  • date, time and location of the alleged offence

If you receive a notice you must complete the appropriate section and return it to the Fixed Penalty Processing Centre within the allotted time.

Should you discover a mistake on the notice you should contact the Safety Camera Office on the number shown on the Notice of Intended Prosecution.

Registered keeper obligations

The registered keeper of the vehicle is legally obliged to identify the driver at the time of the alleged offence. This also includes companies, who are advised to keep accurate records of the use of company vehicles.

If the vehicle has been sold, details of the buyer should be provided.

Conditional offers

The driver will be made a conditional offer with an opportunity to settle the matter without having to go to court. However, they have the right to challenge the offence by having the matter referred to court.

In any case, the driver must submit a response to the Safety Camera Section within  of 28 days. If accepted, the driver must forward the remittance of £60 as a postal order or cheque, along with both parts of their driving licence. Their licence will be endorsed with three penalty points, which will last for three years and be removed from the licence after a period of four years.

Cheques and postal orders should be made payable to the ‘Clerk of the Petty Sessions’ and forwarded with both parts of the driving licence to:

The Fixed Penalty Office
Laganside Court
45 Oxford Street
Belfast
BT1 3LL

Drivers can also make the payment in personl at Laganside Court between 9.00 am and 4.00 pm Monday to Friday (with the exception of bank and public holidays).

There is no facility to pay by instalments without the matter being referred to a court.

An opportunity of settling the matter by way of conditional offer will not be available to individuals who:

  • currently have nine or more valid points on their driving licence; or
  • the speed detected exceeds the limit for the offer

Lost driving licences

Drivers cannot send payment without including both parts of their driving licence. If they have lost their driving licence, they should get a replacement from the Driver and Vehicle Agency. They must still respond to the conditional offer of the fixed penalty, however contact the Safety Camera Section who will consider suspension of process.

Speed awareness courses

Drivers, depending upon the speed at which they were detected, may be invited to attend a Speed Awareness Course as an alternative to penalty points. This course can only be offered once in a period of three years from the last date of detection.

You must book your course within 14 days following receipt of an offer.

For the speed awareness course, the speed of the offence must fall within the criteria stated below:

  • 30 mph up to and including 42 mph
  • 40 mph up to and including 53 mph
  • 50 mph up to and including 64 mph
  • 60 mph up to and including 75 mph
  • 70 mph up to and including 86 mph

The course costs £89, lasts for four hours and involves an interactive presentation. It is available at eight locations throughout Northern Ireland andis delivered and managed by an appointed contractor, AADriveTech. The course must be attended within 120 days from the date of detection.

If more suitable, drivers can attend a course in Great Britain instead of Northern Ireland.

Young driver scheme

A Young Driver Scheme is available to drivers under the age of 25 who are invited to attend a Speed Awareness Course. The course is a two and a half hour workshop followed by four online modules and a test which must be completed within 28 days of completing the course.

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