Minimum Speed Limits and Driving Too Slow

We are all aware that exceeding the speed limit is illegal and with the ever increasing static and mobile enforcement cameras in the UK, speeding is an offence that catches out many motorists each year.

Minimum speed limits on the other hand is a law that on the most part, is not often enforced in the UK. Certain countries enforce the minimum speed limit in a rather more assertive manner than that of the UK.

Due to the infrequent use of such law, many of us in the UK will have never seen a minimum speed limit sign and were perhaps unaware of their existence.

So the question is, if there isn’t a minimum speed limit sign, can you travel at any speed you like legally, providing you do not exceed the maximum?

Minimum speed limit sign
Minimum speed limit sign

Minimum speed limit signs

Generally speaking no. Where the few minimum speed limit signs are in the UK, they are used to ensure traffic keeps running smoothly, but outside of any area that has a minimum speed limit, it’s down to the driver to use common sense and courtesy to determine as safe and appropriate minimum speed at which to drive.

Where are minimum speed limit signs located

Minimum speed limits are put in force to keep traffic moving at a speed that is consistent and smooth. Vehicles that are constantly accelerating and braking are at higher risk of collision. Where minimum speed limits are mandatory are locations that emergency services might struggle to gain access such as tunnels.

End of minimum speed limit sign
End of minimum speed limit sign

Is there a motorway minimum speed limit in the UK?

There are currently no laws pertaining to a minimum speed limit on either motorways or dual carriageways in the UK. If minimum speed limits are enforced on motorways or dual carriageways, these will be temporary, circular signs will be displayed and used to help reduce congestion.

Many people are nervous when driving on motorways due to the volume of traffic and the high speeds. Such drivers may tend to drive a little slower than the maximum speed limit of 70 mph.

Anywhere between 50 mph and 70 mph is acceptable although any slower, you would yourself become a hazard and increase the potential of being involved in an accident or creating an accident for others. If you do feel the need to drive excessively slow on a motorway, if possible find an alternative route that eliminates such high speed roads.

driving too slow, is it dangerous?

It can be due to two main reasons. On a high speed road such as motorways or dual carriageways, excessively slow speeds effectively creates a hazardous obstacle that other motorists must avoid. Drivers may not correctly assess a much slower vehicles speed in time resulting in abrupt braking or evasive overtaking. This can be particularly hazardous for large vehicles such as HGV’s that need a good deal of time to prepare in a change of speed or direction.

Slow moving vehicles typically utilise hazard warning beacons to alert motorists of a potential hazard. Motorists hogging the centre lane, particularly when they’re driving rather slowly is a form of inconsiderate driving that infuriates most motorists as it can often force drivers to illegally undertake rather than overtake.

Another reason why driving too slow is dangerous can be found on single carriageway roads where overtaking is difficult. Following motorists will likely become stressed and impatient whilst following an excessively slow vehicle leading to the possibility of dangerous overtaking manoeuvres and erratic driving.

Can you be fined for driving too slow

Although there is no minimum speed limit on the majority of UK roads, you can still be fined for driving too slow if it is seen that you are a hazard to other road users. There is no specific penalty for driving too slowly and as such, penalties may be as little as a verbal warning by a police officer along with a lecture of the dangers of driving too slow and in more serious cases, a motorist may find themselves in court charged with driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users (penalty code CD30). The more serious penalty CD30 comes with penalty points on a motorists licence, anywhere from 3 to 9 along with a fine. Penalty points stay on a motorists licence for four years from the date of the offence and are likely to seriously impact the cost of car insurance.

The amount of penalty points set between 3 and 9 and a fine of anything up to a maximum of £5,000 are determined by the seriousness of the incident and the decision of the court.

If driving excessively slow is dangerous, what should I do?

Driving too slow may originate from an driving incident that has knocked the confidence out of them, making them feel vulnerable and scared behind the wheel. For others, they may hold the belief that it is in fact safer, whilst others may drive excessively slow to save on fuel.

If you are unable to break the driving too slow habit yourself, seek the guidance of a qualified driving instructor. Refresher driving lessons are essentially offered to those that can drive, but need to require lost driving skills. This short driving course often lasting just a few hours will see the instructor impart their knowledge and skills, making you a more confident and safer driver.

If driving slowly is dangerous, how should I drive?

Quite simply, if weather, road and traffic conditions allow, drive at whatever the speed limit is on that particular road.

Slow speed cameras

One of the proposed methods to crackdown on slow drivers is to introduce slow speed cameras. The fact is however, current speed cameras are the subject of much debate, particularly whether they do in fact help to reduce accidents or provide substantial revenue to the government.

Not only several millions of pounds are generated each year from speed cameras, they ironically represent a hazard to drivers who upon observing a speed camera, reach for the brakes to abruptly reduce the vehicles speed, regardless of whether they were travelling over the speed limit or not. This reactive form of driving is dangerous as no premeditated safety checks are performed prior to the action.

Bringing in slow speed cameras into the mix will unquestionably increase revenue, but is also likely to cause much confusion among motorists. It could be argued that if motorists were all driving at the correct speed, cameras wouldn’t be an issue anyway, but in reality, it doesn’t work like that. Instead, we might see drivers hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake, and on wet or icy roads, that’s going to spell disaster.

Further information related to driving offences

12 thoughts on “Minimum Speed Limits and Driving Too Slow”

  1. Mark Lydon

    When you say that the roads would be safer if everyone drives at the correct speed, what is that speed???? Is it exactly at the speed limit, not one mile over or under. As you can’t go over it how much under is acceptable, 2mph, 3mph etc etc. I drive between 45 and 50 mph single carriage national speed limit roads and the only danger I see is other aggressive drivers diving too close behind or cutting by close when overtaking. I’m not an arse I maintain a constant speed and allow them to overtake easy when it is clear in the other direction. Everyone is worried about the cost of living and car fuel especially and the impact to the environment so why not drive slower and cut carbon emissions. Plus I have plenty of time to stop or avoid for animals in the road, don’t get many bugs on the front of the car and get 60mpg from a 12 year old 3 litre BWM. People need to take a chill pill and just enjoy the weather and views.

  2. Hello Mark,
    Generally when we teach learner drivers, we teach them to drive at the speed limit, provided of course that it’s safe to do so. The reason is to help prevent as you say ‘aggressive drivers’ from tailgating. Obviously there are certain drivers who’ll do this regardless, but driving too slow can make some drivers impatient. Examiners will also mark a fault if test candidates drives too slowly for the conditions.

    Having said that, I do totally agree with you. I see no harm in slowing it down. It makes very little difference to the journey time and saves on fuel and reduces emissions. Unfortunately, it can result in some drivers becoming aggressive and/or carrying out overtaking manoeuvres that may not be safe.

  3. Driver

    Mark, hand over your licence and take a bus. You are obstructing the traffic flow and pi## off other drivers, also creating hazard and you should fined for.
    Taking to account you are doing this deliberately every normal driver should be allowed to stop you and wack you hard so you wake up you selfish pri#k.
    The same with cyclist on 40+ mph roads, especially those in lycra riding tour de france middle lane on a national speed limit.

  4. John

    I think we have a growing problem where learners are now taught to pass the driving test and not taught to drive.

  5. Hi John,
    To be fair, it’s been like that for a long time. Most learners want to pass the driving test with the minimum amount of lessons and with the minimum amount of time. To help gain more experience, the government were at one point considering a set amount of time and lessons required before a learner can take a driving test, but that developed.

  6. Chess

    Your comment talk a lot about the driver’s choice to drive too slowly, however, what about those who drive vehicles that can not sustain speeds of over 45 mph for example, but ARE still of the correct vehicle class to be legal on the motorway or fast duel carriageways etc. If it is legal to use the road, how can you be at risk of prosecution, just because some nanny state official decided that in his option it is dangerous?

  7. Hi Chess,
    In order to take the driving test, you must use a vehicle that’s capable of at least 62 mph. Although there is no official minimum speed limit on a motorway or dual carriageway, I would consider 45 mph too slow. That’s a 25 mph difference over the maximum 70 mph speed limit – that’s quite a lot of difference.

    If a vehicle were to be traveling at such a slow speed where it could become hazardous to other road users, the driver could be warned, or even prosecuted for careless driving. There are vehicles that are limited to slow speeds, but they must not be used on fast roads such as motorways.

  8. john

    if you drive to slowly. and you drive for many decades then at some point you will make some late for an interveiw, being by their loved ones side as they die or missing the birth of a child. so it is a basic act of concideration to move over if your holding people up. this is why your being tail gated more than you like.; the speed limit is the ideral and is also the times by which your journey is planned. you can brand drivers as tail gaters or speeders as much as you like. but a consistant 15mph below speed for many decades is going to mean this is what you are doing!!!!! so why nmot find a spot and let them pass. i could do the maths as well to show how much time is lost to slow drivers. 30 mph in a 50 over a one hour journey is very basic maths so work it out. then imagine the person behind has a situation like i described.

  9. Trevor Gough

    With the new 20mph speed limit coming into force in Wales in September 2023 on ALL previously designated 30mph roads, can I drive at 15mph without penalty and what about cyclists who go over the 20mph speed limit?

  10. Hi Trevor,
    Yes, you can drive at 15 mph without penalty, unless there are minimum speed limits (the blue circular signs), but they are not used too often. If you’re driving excessively slow, where you’re causing a hazard, then you may receive the penalty of inconsiderate or even dangerous driving, but driving 15 mph in a 20 mph limit wouldn’t be a problem. Generally though, it’s considered best practice to drive at the speed limit if it’s safe to do so.

    Technically, speed limits do not apply to cyclists, so a cyclist exceeding the speed limit wouldn’t be prosecuted for that specific offence. Depending on the situation, they could be prosecuted for careless or dangerous cycling.

  11. Jim

    If Driving at 45mph on a motorway is considered to be too slow then why are new drivers, in Northern Ireland, restricted to a maximum of 45mph on all roads? Obviously less if the speed limit is less.

    The maximum speed limit is just that, a maximum, not a target. It is designed as a way to prevent cars from traveling at an unsafe speed. It is supposed to be the safest maximum speed you can travel on that road assuming the road is in good condition, visibility is good and there are no road hazards.

    I’d say that if a driver is limited to 45mph or feels safer driving at that speed any frustration or problems that following drivers feel are because they have a problem.

    If I am driving at what I consider a safe speed and I get a tailgater trying to force me to go faster then this will make me feel that my safety is being jeopardised and I will try to reduce the risk, generally speaking, it will not be by going faster.


  12. Mo Ali

    The 20 mph limit came into force in Wales today. I drive a Mondeo with a 6-speed manual box. While driving around today i made a point to stick to the 20 mph limit wherever the sign showed.
    This is what i observed:
    Using the 2nd gear made my engine rpm too high if i were to keep the speed at 20 mph. The upshift light came on in the instrument panel telling me to shift to 3rd. When i did that i overshot the 20 mph. Reducing the rpm while in 3rd in order to go back to 20 mph made the engine jerk and almost stall with a lot of clanking from the drive line. The downshift light came on to shift to 2nd OR increase the rpm !!!!!
    The obvious solution would have been to have another gear ratio between 2nd and 3rd…kind of 2.5 shift marked on my shift lever!!!!!!
    Any one with a clever solution for my plight?

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