Road signs

Speed limit sign in the New Forest

Speed limits

In 1991 special authorisation was granted to the New Forest for a 40mph zone throughout much of the area, and in particular those parts where ponies grazed. The zone was implemented in the north of the Forest in 1991 and in the south in 1992.

This zone addressed two key issues:

  • It highlighted the need to drive slowly to reduce the high number of accidents involving animals. Prior to 1991, 110-150 animals were killed on New Forest roads each year.
  • It meant that within the zone, speed limit ‘roundels’ painted on the road were deemed adequate to remind people of the speed limit. Outside of the zone vertical speed limit signs (on posts) are needed. The painted roundels have a much smaller effect on the landscape.

Entrance (and exit) points to the zone have to be marked by prominent signs, mounted on both sides of the road. In recent years, most villages have had their speed limit reduced to 30mph and the entrance points to these areas are similarly marked on both sides of the road.

Speed limits are determined by local highway authorities and the police based on a range of factors. For example, there needs to be a certain frequency of driveways on a village road for it to qualify for a 30mph limit as part of the ‘Village 30’ scheme. It is also important that speed limits can be enforced by the police, so there is understandable reluctance to try to impose unrealistically low limits. On Open Forest roads it’s also worth remembering that 40mph is often appropriate provided you slow down and give a wide berth to ponies grazing beside the road.

People who want to suggest changes to the speed limit should contact their local highway authority (Hampshire County Council or Wiltshire Council). Within villages, parish or town councils have a key role in assessing local opinion and applying for changes on behalf of their communities.

  1. Road signs
  2. Report problems
  3. Signs on Crown land
  4. Speed limits (you are here)
  5. Tourist signs
  6. Working together


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