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Speed limits are the maximum speed that you are allowed to travel. They are not a target speed.

Sometimes the appropriate speed will be lower than the speed limit, depending on things like the weather, how busy the road is, or whether it is light or dark.

The Commissioner for Transport sets speed limits so everyone can have a safer and more reliable journey.

1Changes to speed limits

To find out more about speed limits under review or recently changed speed limits visit our Speed Limit Reviews page.

2Who sets speed limits in Tasmania?

Speed limit changes are approved by the Commissioner for Transport.

The Commissioner for Transport is the legal authority for setting speed limits on all roads in Tasmania.

The Commissioner makes a decision after looking at an application and recommendation from the road manager, such as the State Roads Division of the Department of State Growth, or by a local council.

The Commissioner will typically base their decision on national traffic engineering standards and guidance.

Find out more about the Commissioner of Transport.

3How are speed limits set?

To make sure everyone follows the speed limit, it's important to set realistic speed limits.

If a speed limit is set too low in a higher speed environment, people are less likely to obey it.

Because of this, the credibility of a speed limit is looked at when setting speed limits.

If a speed limit changes too much it can be confusing and lead to people not following it. Nearby speed limits and consistency are also important things to consider when setting speed limits.

Because of this, traffic engineering standards don't recommend changing speed limits because of specific or localised hazards, like driveways or single bends, if they can be managed with warning signs or road markings.

4Australian standard

The Australian Standard AS1742, Part 4 has technical guidance on setting speed limits includes the following factors.

  • Roadside development, such as the number of driveways along the road. Too many driveways can increase the chance of conflict between through traffic and turning traffic.
  • Minimising speed limit changes.
  • What the road is used for.
  • How many people use the road.
  • The width and alignment of the road.

5Why are speed limits important?

The Tasmanian Government’s Towards Zero road safety strategy highlights the importance of speed to road safety.

Safe travel speed is an important part of the Safe System approach to road safety. It recognises the higher the travel speed, the greater the chance of being involved in a crash and the consequences of a crash will be more severe. Research tells us that even small reductions (10 km/h) in travelling speeds can lead to reductions of 25 per cent in serious casualties.

Lower travel speeds will make your travel times a little bit longer, but it’s a small price to pay to prevent serious injury and death on our roads.

For more information about Safer Speeds in Tasmania, please visit our Safer Speeds page.

6Are speed limits on gravel roads different?

A maximum speed limit of 80 km/h applies to all gravel roads in Tasmania unless they have a different speed limit signposted.

Drivers need to be more careful on gravel roads. Gravel roads are more at risk to changing conditions than sealed roads, so it may not always be safe to drive at the default speed limit of 80 km/hr.

7Why are there reduced speed limits on roadwork sites when I can't see work happening?

Sometimes a lower speed limit stays in place at roadwork sites even when no obvious work is occurring. Workers could be setting up or packing down a site. There may be changes to the road surface or the centre separation. There could be new or no line marking or barriers or road workers and equipment on the road or at the side of the road.

Sometimes bad weather delays roadworks for a long time, and so the lower speed limit stays until the work is finished.

Speed limits on work sites are mandatory, meaning by law you must obey the speed limit and can be fined if you do not.

The need to reduce the speed may not be obvious, but reduced speed limits are for your safety and the safety of road workers.

8What are variable speed limit signs?

Electronic speed limit signs are used in some locations to change the speed limit to match the road conditions and situation.

We might change the speed limit because of a crash, an obstacle on the road, a queue of vehicles or bad weather.

Variable Speed Limit signs are on the Tasman Highway from Liverpool Street Hobart to the Cambridge Interchange, including the Tasman Bridge.

Variable electronic school speed signs operate across Tasmania.  The times for a school speed zone are set by each school community, so might be different in each location.

9What do different speed signs mean?

White speed signs with a red circle around the back speed limit are mandatory speed limit signs. They show the fastest speed allowed for that section of the road. They are not a target speed. You are not allowed to go faster than the speed limit on these signs, or you may be fined.

Speed limit signs for road works, lane closures or special events are also white with a red circle around the back speed limit. They are also mandatory.

Yellow speed signs with black writing are speed advisory signs. They are a guide to the safe speed at which you should travel.

Tasmania Police has the power to enforce mandatory speed limits on our roads. They can fine you if you don't follow the speed limit.

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.