Some vehicles have speed limiters for safety reasons. This might be because of the likely level of driver skill, the capacity of the vehicle (e.g. brakes) or the weight of the vehicle, voluntarily or by design.
Mopeds have a speed limiter set to 28mph or 45km/h.
Buses, coaches and minibuses have a speed limiter set to 60mph or 97km/h
HGVs have a speed limiter set to 50mph (80km/h) or 60mph, depending on the vehicle class.
Many European cars have an electronic speed limiter between 130-150mph for safety reasons.
Many older vehicles don’t have speed limiters, even though they do need to drive at a reduces speed – the technology wasn’t available, although they often don’t have the power to exceed the limit anyway.
Some vehicles are fitted with a speed limiter for business purposes for specific vehicles in a company fleet. This could be for:
- Fuel economy
- Perceived safety benefits
- The type of vehicle it is
- The type of load it carries.
This could include company cars or other vehicles, self-powered trailers and specialist machinery.
If a roadgoing vehicle has a voluntary speed limiter, it must display a warning sticker.
Some vehicles have a maximum speed dictated by their gearbox, for example, agricultural tractors. This isn’t a speed limiter, though.
Personal electric vehicles such as e-bikes often have speed limiters which mean that the electric power cuts out at a certain speed, but the cyclist can still carry on pedalling to make it go faster.
Speed limiters are often installed on industrial machinery such as forklifts for safety purposes. This is often around 10mph or 15km/h. Speeds can be controlled using geofencing technology on some vehicles. For example, if a vehicle is driven in a warehouse, it is automatically limited and as soon as it’s driven out of the warehouse, the limit is increased.
A speed limiter does not necessarily stop a vehicle exceeding the speed limit. If the vehicle is driven down a hill, it is possible to go faster than the speed limiter is set to, unless the vehicle is fitted with a system that brakes automatically (modern cars are fitted with this system), or it’s a lorry using a retarder.
Of course, the EU has provisionally mandated that speed limiters be fitted to all new cars from July 2022, but it will take a long time before the majority of cars have them as they won’t be required to be retrofitted to older vehicles.