Speed Limit Signs

Some of the most confusing signs for drivers moving to Spain are those related to speed limits. There are some similarities in the UK Highway Code.

When we look at road signs we remember some basic principles. Red circles tell us what we must NOT do, blue circles tell us what we MUST do, squares and rectangles offer information, triangles are warnings. There are a couple of others, such as the hexagonal stop sign, but they are the principle points to remember. Red circles DONĀ“T, blue circles DO, squares and rectangles are info, triangles are warnings.

The maximum permitted speed on a road is indicated by means of a circular sign with a red border and the numbers in black the centre. This is a mandatory speed limit sign, known as R-301.

The UK Highway Code says, "Maximum Speed".

There is also a minimum required speed sign, the R-411, which is a blue circle with numbers in white in the centre. A minimum speed is a requirement on a number of roads, and so if your vehicle is incapable of reaching those speeds, you will not be allowed on them. All roads have a minimum speed limit which is usually, though not always, half the maximum. That is why agricultural vehicles are not permitted on motorways for example, they are unable to reach the minimum speed.

The UK Highway Code says, "Minimum Speed"

These signs can also appear in conjunction with other information, such as denoting the minimum or maximum speed in a particular lane, such as the S-50.

The third signs relating to speed are the S-7 and S-9, which is an advisory maximum speed limit sign. It is a blue square with white numbers printed in the centre and denotes the advised maximum speed which your vehicle should travel on through the stretch in question. This sign can also be accompanied by a danger warning and is active for the stretch of road where the danger exists.

The S-9 sign denoted a variable recommended maximum speed, with the advice being to keep the speed between the parameters shown, depending on the weather and environmental conditions of the road and traffic. When placed under a warning sign of a danger, the recommendation refers to the section in which that danger persists.

There is also another sign, although quite rare, which is a whited-out speed limit with diagonal stripes. This denotes the end of a particular restriction. However, this kind of sign is uncommon as there is another important rule we need to be aware of. When a speed limit sign appears on the same pole as a warning sign, the restriction is in place until after passing whatever the warning sign is advising us of. For example, if you see a mandatory 50 limit sign on the same pole as a warning of a bend in the road, the 50 limit is active until after you have passed the bend. There will not be another sign cancelling out that limit. The warning might be a crossing, roundabout or any other feature, the rule still applies.

There is one more variation on the speed limit signs that we have to know, that is when they are coloured yellow. The principle of these signs remains the same. The maximum permitted speed sign still has a red border and is therefore treated the same. The only difference is the fact that the body is yellow. Yellow signs are used during temporary operations, such as in road works or when there is a diversion in place for example. The rules still apply whether the sign is yellow or white, but yellow signs take priority over their original white versions, as the restrictions are in place for a temporary section or time.