What you need to know:
Maintaining road safety necessitates obeying speed limits. Knowing when to slow down will help drivers control their speed, fostering a safe driving environment for all other road users.
In the hustle and bustle of daily life, people often find themselves in a rush to get from point A to point B. In this haste, one of the most fundamental aspects of road safety, observing the speed limits, is sometimes overlooked.
As per the 2023 police traffic road report, one of the main causes of road accidents is failure to adhere to set speed limits. Depending on the road condition, weather, mood, visibility and traffic, most of the people that operate vehicles drive at the speed they feel is comfortable for them, which at times leads to accidents.
Speed limits are, therefore, legal restrictions on the maximum speed at which vehicles are allowed to travel on a particular road or in a specific area, a reason motorists need to observe them.
Michael Kananura, the spokesperson of the Directorate of Traffic and Road Safety, says whereas several people do not know the different speed limits that exist, they must understand and observe them in order to regulate speed on the road.
“Speed is the number one cause of road accidents in Uganda. However, speed limits do not necessarily require you as a motorist to first see a sign post. You must be aware of the speed limits for a particular road, depending on the type of vehicle you are driving, and you must observe them to reduce the risk of crashing,” he says.
There are different speed limits and these can vary depending on the type of road, type of car, location, and the local regulations of a region.
Posted speed limits
Also referred to as regulatory or absolute speed limits, these limits are permanent and sign-posted on the road and are enforceable by the law. Posted speed limits are commonly found on highways, residential streets and urban areas or school zones. Once a driver does not obey these speed limits, they are susceptible to a speeding ticket or fine.
According to the Uganda Traffic and Road safety act of 2023, driving beyond a set speed limit attracts a fine of Shs2m. The fine was increased from a Shs200,000 to restore sanity and enhance cautious driving on the road.
Basic speed limit
This is the standard speed limit applied to most roads unless otherwise posted. It serves as a default maximum speed. Kananura says in Uganda, the maximum speed limits are determined majorly basing on the type of vehicle and the road on which it is being driven.
“The maximum speed for saloon cars is 100km/h on highways such as the Gulu-Kampala Highway. However, for a busy road such as the Bwaise roundabout, the maximum speed limit is 50km/h,” Kananura says, adding that when it comes to heavy vehicle such as trucks, buses, mini buses and lorries, among others, the maximum speed limit on highways is 80km/h and 50km/h on a busy road. If a car goes beyond this speed limit, then as a driver, you are breaking the law.”
Kananura adds that on a murram road, while the maximum speed for saloon cars is 80km/h, it is 60km/h for other types of vehicles.
Some of the other types of speed limits include school zone, (these are usually lower speed limits around schools such as 5km/h and are used to enhance the safety of children during school hours,) work zone with reduced speed limits in construction or industrial zones to protect both workers and drivers. Variable speed limit which is referred to as speed limits that can change based on specific conditions such as weather, traffic volume, or construction zones. These are often displayed on electronic signs and include diversion ahead and slow down, among others.
While the primary purpose of speed limits is to enhance road safety, lower speeds reduce the risk of accidents because speed limits provide drivers with sufficient time to react to unexpected situations and hazards, which minimises the potential harm caused by accidents and promotes a sense of order on the roads.
In a country where the economy keeps changing, maintaining reasonable speeds can lead to better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions which contributes to environmental conservation.
These are key in helping you as a driver have a good driving record, making it easier to obtain a driver license or replace one. Sometimes, when many speeding tickets are attached to your license, traffic police might be forced to detain your car and force you to pay for the tickets. This not only causes loss of money but also leads to loss of money that would have been used on something else.
“As speed limits are enforced by law, observing them ultimately reduces one’s chances of getting fines or facing other legal consequences. We do not confiscate your license, rather, we park you at a station until you clear the fines. This encourages drivers to comply with established limits,” Kananura says.
Although motorists find it hard to drive within the set speed limits, Kananura offers some tips. He encourages drivers to learn and understand the different speed limits used on particular roads, especially during the lessons taken while at driving school.
“Learn them not only for your safety but to also avoid being caught on the wrong side of the law,” he says.
According to www.jngijamaica.com, while regularly checking your speedometer helps to ensure you are within the set speed limit, choosing the right gear for your speed and avoiding sudden and aggressive acceleration or braking contributes to smoother driving. This can be enhanced if your vehicle is equipped with cruise control, a safety feature in modern cars. Simply activate it on highways to maintain a steady speed without continuous manual adjustments.
Being aware of changing road conditions, turns, and traffic signals also allows for better speed management while ensuring to keep a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you. This provides more time to react to changes in traffic speed. It is also important to note that staying focused on driving and minimising distractions such as using one’s phone while driving can reduce crashes. Usually, distractions lead to unintentional changes in speed.