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

Excess speed/breach of traffic sign

Within 14 days of a camera recording an alleged speeding or red light running 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 Northern Ireland Road Safety Partnership (NIRSP) within the allotted time.

Should you discover a mistake on the notice you should contact the NIRSP 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.

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 £84.00, lasts for four hours and involves an interactive presentation. It is available at nine locations throughout Northern Ireland and is 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.

Conditional offers

If you are not eligible for a Speed Awareness Course or have committed a Red Light Running offence you will be issued a Conditional Offer of Fixed Penalty, timeframes permitting, which is £60.00 and 3 penalty points (remain valid on your licence for 3 years).  Aged 18 and over, an offender levy of £5.00 will apply.  A payment of £60/65 and both parts of your driving licence should be sent to Laganside Court or you can opt at any stage for a court hearing.

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

Payment can  also be made in person at Laganside Court between  9.30 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 you have lost your driving licence, you should apply for a replacement from the Driver and Vehicle Agency. If this is the case, they must make contact with NIRSP  to advise them an application has been made for a duplicate licence and may require an extension to make payment.

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