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Speed limits are the maximum allowed speed, not the speed you should necessarily expect to travel at. Drivers should always drive for the conditions, which will mean slowing down when visibility is reduced, or at other times when it is not safe to drive at the speed limit. We have explained the various speed limits and what they mean below.
Where a speed limit sign applies, the maximum speed a driver can travel at is the number of kilometres per hour indicated by the number on the sign. Some drivers may be subject to lower speed limits, including some heavy vehicles which are restricted to 100km/h and some learner drivers from outside Victoria.
A speed limit sign on a road applies to the length of road beginning at the sign, and ending at the nearest of the following: a sign with a different speed limit, an “End speed limit” sign, or the end of the road if the road ends at a T-intersection or dead end.
Speed limit signs may also have the word ‘area’ on them, meaning the speed limit shown applies to the network of roads in the area with an area speed limit sign on each road into the area and an end area speed limit sign on each road out of the area. But another speed limit sign in this area showing a different limit, such as at a school zone, must also be obeyed.
Speed limit signs may also be associated with special zones, such as temporary road works, school zones or shared zones, and apply in a similar manner.
In Victoria, outside these areas and where a speed limit sign doesn’t apply, the speed limit is the default speed limit. In a built up area the default speed limit is 50km/h. The default speed limit for any other length of road is 100km/h. Speed limits apply in a 'road related area' which includes car parks and any area that is open to the public for driving, riding or parking, or is designated for use by cyclists or animals.
Remember that speed limits are the maximum allowed speed, not the speed you should necessarily expect to travel at. Drivers should always drive for the conditions, which will mean slowing down when visibility is reduced, or at other times when it is not safe to drive at the speed limit.
For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules rules 20, 21, 22, 24 and 25.
Roadworks speed limits
At roadworks, when a regulatory speed sign (black text in a red circle on a white background) is posted, the speed limit applies. The speed on the sign applies regardless of the time of day, or whether there are workers present.
Even if no workers are present, there may be reasons for the reduced speed limit that are not immediately obvious. For example narrowed lane widths, no line marking or works being carried out underneath a bridge.
The reduced speed limit applies until you pass another sign with a different speed limit.
It is important to obey the posted speed limit at roadworks sites, not only for your safety and that of other road users, but also for the workers who are on-site.
Advisory signs may also be present at roadworks. These are black on a yellow background and provide advice on the appropriate speed for the conditions. They are not regulatory signs.
Other signs may warn motorists they are approaching a reduced speed limit. These signs are black text in a black circle on white background with the word 'AHEAD' at the bottom of the sign.
For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules rules 20 and 24.
If you notice an issue at a roadworks site on major roads such as conflicting speed limit signs contact VicRoads on 13 11 70. If it is on a local street, contact the relevant council. Find out about who is responsible for the different road types in Victoria and how to contact them.
School speed zones
Motorists need to be aware of speed limits that apply outside all Victorian schools and on route to schools where indicated by signs.
These lower speed limits aim to reduce the chances of a crash occurring outside a school and minimise the risk of death or serious injury if a crash does occur.
Of course speed limits are the maximum legal speed and motorists should always drive to the prevailing conditions and within the speed limit – which may mean slowing down even more outside schools when necessary.
The school speed limit and the type of sign will depend on the usual speed limit of the road adjacent to the school as follows:
Permanent (24/7) 40km/h limits apply outside schools on some roads which otherwise have a 50km/h limit (including roads to which the unsigned 50km/h default speed limit applies). These speed limits are permanent and apply regardless of the day or time.
On some 50km/h roads, including those with high traffic volumes, time based 40km/h signs may be used (see below).
Time-based 40km/h limits apply outside schools on some 50km/h roads as well as on 60km/h and 70km/h roads. These limits apply from 8.00am to 9.30am and then 2.30pm to 4.00pm on school days (see definition below).
On higher speed roads (80km/h, 90km/h and 100km/h) where there is a flagged crossing, a time-based 40km/h limit will be used.
Time-based 60km/h limits apply outside schools on 80km/h, 90km/h and 100km/h roads. The limits apply between 8.00am to 9.30am and then 2.30pm to 4.00pm on school days (see definition below). Where there is a flagged school crossing, a time-based 40km/h limit will be used.
Electronic variable speed limit signs are found on some roads with 60km/h or higher speed limits (as well as some shopping centres and freeways). The speed limit shown on these signs can change, so make sure you don't travel faster than the limit shown.
What is a school day?
Following the implementation of school speed zones in Victoria, RACV successfully advocated that the State Government should publish the dates defined to be ‘school days’ to remove confusion about when school zone limits apply.
‘School days’ are standardised to remove confusion about when speed limits and other restrictions apply near schools. These dates are set by the Victorian Department of Education and Training and published on their website. The school speed limit dates for 2018 are:
30 January to 29 March (inclusive)
16 April to 29 June (inclusive)
16 July to 21 September (inclusive)
8 October to 21 December (inclusive).
Within these blocks of dates, ‘school day’ speed limits apply every day except Saturdays, Sundays and local public holidays. The reduced limits apply on a designated school day even if the school is closed for a 'student free day' or other activity, or if it is a school with different term dates. School speed zones may apply locally on weekends or public holidays if signs indicate this on the day.
Remember that electronic signs, where the speed limit may vary, and permanent lower speed limits around schools must be obeyed at all times.
‘School days’ may also apply to parking around schools where signs indicate that the parking restriction applies on school days (e.g. P 5min school days).
For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules rules 20, 23 and 317A.
Speed limits around emergency vehicles
From July 1 2017, there is a new rule regarding driving around stationary or slow-moving emergency or enforcement vehicles. Emergency and enforcement vehicles include Police, Ambulance, Fire Services, State Emergency Service and heavy vehicle enforcement vehicles which have magenta flashing lights (VicRoads Transport Safety Service vehicles).
When emergency or enforcement vehicles are displaying flashing red, blue or magenta lights, or sounding their alarm, drivers must:
Approach at a speed that allows the driver to stop, if necessary, before passing the vehicle and give way to any emergency or enforcement worker on foot in the vicinity;
Not drive past or overtake the vehicle at a speed of more than 40km/h;
Not increase speed until the driver isa sufficient distance past the vehicle to not cause danger to those workers in the immediate vicinity.
This rule does not apply on a road with a median strip, where the vehicle is on the other side of the median strip.
The rule applies to the driver despite any other road rule.
We have received a number of questions about this rule, including when and where it applies. We have provided clarifications on our blog post here. We will keep updating the blog post as we receive new information.
For more information on giving way to emergency vehicles, see the section on Giving Way.
For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules rule 79A.
For more information on speeding fines, see the section Enforcement.
Travelling too slow
The rules about driving below the speed limit relate to not obstructing other road users rather than stating a minimum speed.
A driver must not unreasonably obstruct the path of another driver or pedestrian. A driver is not considered to be unreasonably obstructing another road user if the driver is stopped in traffic; or if the driver is driving more slowly than the other vehicles (unless the driver is driving abnormally slow in the circumstances).
The rules provide an example of a driver driving abnormally slow: “A driver driving at a speed of 20 kilometres per hour on a length of road to which a speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour applies when there is no reason for the driver to drive at that speed on the length of road”.
The key reason to this example is “when there is no reason” for the slower speed. Under adverse conditions, such as rain, at night, or areas with high pedestrian activity, it is often necessary to drive at a speed that is slower than the posted speed limit.
For more information see the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules rule 125.
To help keep you safe on the road, RACV has summarised many of the Victorian road rules. Refresh your knowledge or take our quiz and stay safe, no matter what your mode of travel.