In February 2020 we wrote a blog about campervan and van with windows speed limits, which sought to unravel the mysteries of what dictates how fast you can drive a campervan on different pieces of the UK road network. Over the past six months we have been digging further into this question and have had direct dialogue with the Chief Constable for Roads’ Policing from the National Police Chiefs’ Council – hence the information we have brought together in this blog are not opinions, but are facts.
The differing speeds you can drive any vehicle at on the UK roads are defined by the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, Schedule 6. This details campervan speed limits, but remember that the term motorcaravan is always used, you’ll never see the words campervan, camper van or van with windows etc. in any legislation.
Under Schedule 6 it states that the National Speed Limit applies to a passenger vehicle, a motorcaravan or a dual purpose vehicle not drawing a trailer – the vehicle must also not carry more than 8 passengers, have an unladen weight of over 3.05 tonnes and be less than 12m long. If you have a regular campervan such as a VW T6, T5 or T4 etc. then your van will fit within those criteria.
Within the Road Traffic Act it then directs you to The Motor Vehicles (Type Approval) (Great Britain) Regulations 1979 for the definition of a motorcaravan. This reads; a motor vehicle which is constructed or adapted for the carriage of passengers and their effects and which contains, as permanently installed equipment, the facilities which are reasonably necessary for enabling the vehicle to provide mobile living accommodation for its users. So as far as campervan and van with windows speed limits are concerned, it is this description that is the determining factor.
Like many areas of the law it is down to an individual’s interpretation though, which is why the words reasonably necessary are included. In regards to speed limits therefore, there is no black and white answer to “is my van a motorcaravan?”, but the definition is wide so it gives the owner plenty of scope through which they can comply.
Importantly and somewhat confusingly, for speed limits, this definition takes precedent over the one given by the DVLA to classify the vehicle Body Type on your ownership V5 document. The DVLA definition, which they updated in the summer of 2019 (to include a fixed high top roof, an awning “bar” on both sides, motorcaravan style exterior graphic etc.) is starkly different to that from the Type Approval Regulations 1979, but whether your V5 says Motorcaravan or not, legally this does not determine your speed limit, the Type Approval definition we have given above does.
Rubbish I hear some of you cry, as speed cameras take their information from the DVLA Body Type! Yes, you’re 100% correct, but that doesn’t mean the information is correct and if such a speeding ticket was challenged based upon your van being a motorcaravan as defined in the Type Approval Regulations 1979, and not by the DVLA’s own in house description, then the law would be 100% on your side.
If a member of the police force believes your vehicle is a van and stops you for travelling at 70mph on a dual carriageway, then they should be fully aware of the Road Traffic Act and its definitions for speed limits. On seeing your vehicle is a motorcaravan they should let you on your way.
We agree that a speed camera cannot see inside your van and does not know the DVLA definition may be incorrect, but using the Type Approval Regulations 1979 definition you would be fully within your rights to challenge the offence – just as long as you are happy that your camper van fulfils the definition.
In our discussions with the Chief Constable for Road Policing we can confirm that all of the above is correct. There is clearly an anomaly in the system, but with a very busy in tray we don’t think it’s yet become such an important issue, against thousands of other competing priorities, for the National Police Chiefs’ Council to allocate resource towards sorting a solution.
If you’re not sure what the national speed limits are for the UK. You can find them via this link; https://www.gov.uk/speed-limits
We have since updated this blog with further news in January 2021 with an example of where a driver successfully challenged his local Police Authority over a speeding ticket he received. He used the information given above and the ticket, fine and points where withdrawn – read the update and full report here.