Speed limits in Australia range from 10 km/h (5 mph) Shared Zones to 130 km/h (80 mph). Speed limit signage is in km/h since metrication on 1 July 1974. All speed limits (with the sole exception of the South Australian school and roadworks zones which are signposted at 25 km/h) are multiples of 10 km/h - the last digit in all speed signs is zero. Advisory speed signs for curves or other road obstacles all end in the digit five except in Queensland. These limits are not legally binding as such, but charges of "dangerous driving" may be laid if someone drives at a speed in excess of the advisory limit if deemed dangerous.
Common speed zones below the default built up area 50 km/h limit are:
Common speed zones above the default limits are:
Used in growing numbers to signal the end of a posted speed restriction - leading to a rural area default speed limit - is the ‘END’ speed-limit sign. This is a unique Australian-designed sign which contains the word "END" and a number in a circle beneath this, which represents the ceasing speed limit. In New South Wales, the speed de-restriction sign is also used to signify this. It is typically used where the road beyond has certain hazards such as hidden driveways, poor camber, soft edges and other hazards where the road authority feels a posted speed limit sign might be too dangerous or otherwise unwarranted. It is intended to invoke particular caution. The rural default applies as a maximum.
Speed limits are enforced in almost all areas of the country including the Northern Territory. Tolerance is from 8% to 10% in most states but only 3 km/h in Victoria, an issue which has caused much controversy in that state, especially in light of the fact that the Australian Design Rules specify that vehicle speedometers must have a maximum 10% leeway in accuracy. Detection measures used are police radar, fixed speed cameras, unmarked stationary cameras, fixed 'point to point' cameras and laser.
|State / Territory||School zone||Built-up area||Rural area||Highest speed zone|
|Australian Capital Territory||40||50||all urban||100|
|New South Wales||40||50||100||110|
|Queensland||40, 60 or 80||50||100||110|
|Victoria|| 40 or 60|
40 on roads with 70 km/h or less
60 on roads with 80 km/h or more
Prior to the 1930s the urban default speed limit was 30 mph (48 km/h). This was increased to 35 mph (56 km/h) over the next 30 years by each of the states and territories, with NSW the last to change, in May 1964. The rural default speed limit speed limit (where it existed) was 65 mph (105 km/h). With metrication on 1 July 1974 all limits and advisory signs were converted to the nearest 10 km/h, so the urban limit became 60 km/h and the rural limit 110 km/h, a slight increase for both. These limits were altered to their current values after the introduction of uniform national road rules across the states in 1999.
In most states the introduction of an urban default limit of 50 km/h was watered down by the 60 km/h urban speed limit being retained on most roads already signed as 60 km/h. There is also a 70 km/h limit on some better arterial roads. Some non-signed roads were made 60 km/h. A few 60 km/h urban arterials or sub-arterials have since been limited to 50 km/h, after representations by local councils. Some councils have also sought and established lower speed limits, typically 40 km/h, to apply throughout certain areas. One example is the Balmain/Rozelle peninsula in Sydney and parts of the Sydney CBD. Another example is Kingborough Council in Tasmania who have reduced the unsigned limit from 100km/h to 90km/h on sealed roads, and to 80km/h on unsealed roads.
The Northern Territory was the only location in Australia to have unlimited speed restrictions on the open road until January 2007 when the Government of the Northern Territory introduced an open road speed limit of 110km/h and 130km/h limit on four of the main highways within the Northern Territory.
The speed derestriction sign had different meanings in different states and territories. In the Northern Territory, they designated the end of speed restrictions. In New South Wales and Victoria, they meant that the rural default speed limit applied. While the signs are no longer officially used, some remain in place in rural areas.
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