Free flow speeds

These statistics relate to free flow vehicle speeds on British roads. Free flow vehicle speeds provide information on the speeds at which drivers choose to travel and their compliance with speed limits, but should not be taken as estimates of actual average speed across the road network.

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Notes and guidance

Free flow speed statistics are derived from by monitored traffic speeds at about 100 sites using Automatic Traffic Counters (ATC), deliberately located where external factors which might restrict driver behaviour are not present.

Statistics are presented by different road and vehicle types. The term ‘built-up’ is used to describe roads on which a 40 mph or lower limit applies; the term ‘non-built-up’ describes all other roads.

National administrations in England, Scotland and Wales are responsible for setting speed limits on motorways and trunk ‘A’ roads. Local authorities have the power to impose or vary speed limits on principal roads and on all other local roads. Details of speed limits by vehicle for different road categories can be found under ’Related information’ below.

National Statistics

All of the statistics published in this series are National Statistics. These statistics are currently being assessed by the United Kingdom Statistics Authority (UKSA). An assessment report was published in June 2012 (Report 221).

Pre-release access list

This list details the post holders that are given pre-release access to speeds publications for up to 24 hours prior to release.

Technical information

Further information on the Free flow speeds series.

Information on free flow speeds statistics for previous years which were published on the Department’s old website can be found at:

User feedback

We continuously review the content of these statistics to ensure they are meeting users’ needs. A summary of the feedback we have received from users can be found below. We continue to welcome any feedback on these statistics. Feedback may be given via the contact details provided below.

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