Department of State GrowthTransport

Speed Limits on Tasmanian Roads

What is a speed limit?

Who sets the speed limits in Tasmania? How are speed limits set?

Are speed limits on gravel roads different?

I sometimes see speed limit signs on road work sites when there doesn't seem to be any work occurring. What's happening there?

What are variable speed limit systems?

What is the difference between the yellow / black speed signs and the white signs with the red circle?

What is a speed limit?

A speed limit is the maximum speed you can travel safely in good weather on a road in good condition.

Who sets the speed limits in Tasmania? How are speed limits set?

Legislative power for speed limits on all public roads resides with the Commissioner for Transport. Typically, the Commissioner will make a decision after considering a recommendation from the relevant road manager as they are best placed to understand the issues.

  • The setting of speed limits is a complex matter. Speed limits are set to reflect varying road environments, vehicle types and community needs such as safety, convenience and economics. Speed limit management is about balancing a wide range of objectives and diverse groups of road users and communities. Speed limits are set with the following in mind - although there may be other things to consider:
  • crash history,
  • growth in traffic volumes
  • changes in the environment and roadside development over time,
  • terrain
  • number of accesses onto a road
  • function of the road
  • the road's conditions and specifications

Generally speed limits will be reviewed as a result of public requests or in road project planning. Reviews may include but are not limited to carrying out site investigations and traffic surveys, undertaking stakeholder consultations, reviewing all previous data including crash history, assessing roadside development and terrain, consulting the latest research and reviewing the operation of new speed limits once implemented.

Furthermore, Australian Standard AS1742.4 provides guidance on how speed limits should be varied to provide the best outcome for the community. Further guidance is provided by Austroads publications and associated research.

Are speed limits on gravel roads different?

On the 1st of February 2014, a new maximum speed limit of 80 km/h was applied to all gravel roads in Tasmania unless otherwise signposted.

Drivers need to be more vigilant on gravel roads as they are more susceptible to changing conditions than sealed roads. The appropriate speed on gravel roads may be considerably less than the default limit of 80 km/h which applies when conditions are good.

I sometimes see speed limit signs on road work sites when there doesn't seem to be any work occurring. What's happening there?

Speed limits sometimes remain in place after road works appear to have been completed. Generally they remain in place because certain road conditions make it unsafe to raise the speed limit. This might include things such as wet tar, loose gravel, uneven surfaces and other safety issues.

At other times, poor weather conditions may prevent the completion of road works for a long period of time and so the lower speed limit remains in place until the work can be finished. Speed limits on works sites are mandatory, meaning by law you must obey the speed limit and can be penalised if you do not.

What are variable speed limit systems?

These are systems that use electronic signs to change the speed limit to match the road conditions and situation. Changes might be triggered by a crash, an obstacle on the road, a queue of vehicles during peak times, or weather such as rain, ice or wind.

A Variable Speed Limit system can be seen operating on the Tasman Highway from Liverpool Street Hobart to the Cambridge Interchange, including the Tasman Bridge.

Variable electronic school speed signs operate across Tasmania. Operating times are determined by each school community and therefore differ from school to school.

What is the difference between the yellow / black speed signs and the white signs with the red circle?

Speed signs that are white with a red circle enclosing the back speed limit show the upper most limit which you are able to travel. These are mandatory speed limit signs.

Speed signs that are yellow with black writing are known as "speed advisory signs". They are a guide to the safe speed you should use for the location to which the sign applies.

Speed limits signs that are erected for road works, lane closures or special events are also white with a red circle enclosing the back speed limit. Although temporary, they are also mandatory.

Tasmania Police has the power to enforce mandatory speed limits on our roads and to penalise non-compliance.

Contact Us

If you need further information on the setting and management of speed limits on Tasmanian roads please contact us at info@stategrowth.tas.gov.au.