Department of State GrowthTransport

Speed Limits on Tasmanian Roads

Who sets speed limits in Tasmania?

The legal authority for setting speed limits on all roads in Tasmania is the Commissioner for Transport. The Commissioner will make a decision after considering an application and recommendation from the relevant road manager and will typically assess the recommendation in terms of compliance with national traffic engineering standards and guidance.

How are speed limits set?

Speed limits need to provide a reasonable balance between traffic flow and local safety considerations. Setting realistic speed limits is important to ensure road users obey the speed limit. It has been shown that setting low speed limits for higher speed limit environments results in poor compliance and therefore the credibility of a speed limit at a specific location is an important factor that is taken into account.

Frequent changes in speed limit also lead to poor compliance and can be confusing to be motorists. Surrounding speed limits and consistency are therefore important considerations in determining an appropriate speed limit. For this reason, relevant traffic engineering standards recommend that speed limits not be used to treat safety hazards associated with specific or localised features that are better managed with advisory warning signs and road delineation.

Technical guidance on setting speed limits is provided in the Australian Standard AS1742, Part 4.

The standard includes key factors such as:

  • roadside development, particularly the number of accesses along the road which is a proxy for the likelihood of conflict between through traffic and turning traffic
  • minimising speed limit changes
  • road function and traffic volume
  • road width and alignment

What is a safe travel speed?

The Tasmanian Government’s Towards Zero road safety strategy highlights the importance of speed to road safety. The higher the travel speed, the greater the chance of being involved in a crash and the more severe the consequences will be if a crash occurs. Safe travel speed is a fundamental cornerstone of the Safe System approach to road safety. Under a Safe System, speed limits are set at survivable levels that are appropriate for the level of protection provided by safety infrastructure on a particular section of road.

Lower travel speeds will have a moderate impact on travel times but this is a very small price to pay for the significant reduction in serious injury and death on our roads. Research tells us that even small reductions (10 km/h) in travelling speeds can lead to reductions of 25 per cent in serious casualties.

When are speed limits reviewed

Speed limit reviews are the responsibility of the relevant road manager and the Transport Commission will only consider a speed limit change application from the relevant road manager.

Speed limits on State Roads be reviewed by the Department of State Growth in response to:

  • changed condition or purpose of a road; or
  • a request from stakeholders such as Police, Council or the community where the proposal generally complies with the Australian Standard and Austroads traffic engineering guidance.

When a review is carried out on an existing speed limit a number of factors are taken into consideration, including:

  • Safety concerns
  • Crash history
  • The condition of the road
  • What the road is used for
  • Traffic volumes
  • Characteristics
  • The presence of vulnerable road users
  • The number of accesses and intersections 

The Department of State Growth may also consult with stakeholders such as police, local councils and the community to determine if a speed limit change is supported.

Speed limits currently under review

You are invited to have your say on these proposed speed limit changes:

No speed limits currently under review

How do I request a speed limit review?

If you wish to request a review of a speed limit please contact the relevant road authority. If your request relates to a speed limit on a state road, contact us.

The Department of State Growth, as the road manager for State Roads, will determine if the request meets the relevant standards and if it is likely to be credible. An application to the Transport Commission will be progressed if all requirements are met.

Are speed limits on gravel roads different?

On February 1, 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.

Why are there reduced speed limits on road work sites when I can’t see work happening?

Speed limits sometimes remain in place at road work sites even when no obvious work is occurring. The need to reduce the speed may not be obvious, but reduced speed limits are for your safety and the safety of road workers.

Workers may be setting up or packing down a site, there may be changes to the road surface, new or no line marking, changes to centre separation, new or no barriers, or road workers and equipment on the road or at the side of the road.  

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 work 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 signs?

Electronic speed limit signs are used 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. Variable Speed Limit signs can be seen on the Tasman Highway from Liverpool Street Hobart to the Cambridge Interchange, including on the Tasman Bridge.

Variable electronic school speed signs operate across Tasmania. Operating times are determined by each school community and therefore may 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 uppermost limit at 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.

Speed limit signs 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.