Portuguese speed limits and road safety

Speed limits in Portugal

The Portuguese highway code stipulates the following speed limits.

Speed limits Portugal for hire cars (passenger cars)

The following speed limits are in force for passenger cars in Portugal up to a weight of 3500 kilos and with a maximum of 8 passengers plus driver on board:

  • Speed limit in built up areas when no other limit applies: 50 km/h or 31 mph
  • Speed limit outside towns when no other limit applies: 90 km/h or 56 miles per hour
  • Speed limit on dual carriage ways when no other limit applies: 100 km/h or 62 mph
  • Portuguese speed limit on motorways and express ways: 120 km/h or 75 mph

The Portuguese Auto-Estrada

In Portugal a motorway is referred to as Auto-Estrada and will always be sign posted with white letters on blue background.

Quite a few of the Portuguese motorways are toll roads.

All speed limits in Portugal appear in kilometres per hour.

The speed limits for motorcycles in Portugal (motorcycle engines above 50 cc) are the same as for passenger cars.

For dual carriage ways the general speed limit of 100 km/h only applies when the road is not open to slow traffic.

Speed limits for passenger cars with a trailer in Portugal

For small passenger vehicles with a trailer or a caravan, the maximum speed on motor ways and express ways in Portugal is 100 km/h.

Outside towns, depending on local sign posts, the speed limit in Portugal for cars towing a trailer or caravan is 70 or 80 km/h.

Speed limits for lorries in Portugal

Lories are allowed 90 km/h on motorways and 80 km/h on normal roads in Portugal outside built up areas.

In case the lorry is pulling a trailer, the speed limits are 80 km/h on motorways and 70 km/h on other roads outside built up areas.

Speeding in Portugal

From a Portuguese point of view, the speed limits and the recent enforcement of speed limits by way of radar have been a radical change for the country’s motorists.

To a large extent the Portuguese used to regard speed limits as nothing more than good advice.

The major part of the cars on Portuguese roads outside towns were doing way over the speed limits on a regular basis, and very few roads had permanent radar speed control units installed. The rate of accidents and the severity of many accidents were amongst the worst in Europe.

Improved safety on Portuguese roads

Fortunately the number of road accidents in Portugal has fallen dramatically in recent years.

The improved safety on the roads of Portugal is mainly due to the excellent new road network between major Portuguese cities, more speed limits, introduction of speed traps, ‘speed kills’ campaigns, better enforcement by police and safer vehicles including multiple airbags and other safety features in hire cars.

The serious accident statistics is now almost on par with countries like Denmark and Austria – but still somewhat above the accident rates of say Britain and Sweden.

Speed traps in Lisbon

Nowadays, on the main roads into Lisbon, there are several speed detection radars on the busiest stretches of highways in the Portuguese capital.

Your will find the easy to spot speed traps in the areas of Benfica, Campo Grande, Bela Vista, Docas and in the Marquês de Pombal tunnel in Lisbon City Centre; just to mention a few.

Driving from Portugal to Spain in a hire car

Sometimes the Portuguese drivers still press the accelerator with assumingly no worries like they did years ago.

Especially on almost deserted highways between Portugal and Spain, you are likely to be overtaken by some vehicles doing in excess of 100 miles per hour.

The chance of getting caught for speeding in Portugal increases every year.

It is worth noting that when entering Spain, the number of drivers exceeding the speed limit on major highways decrease significantly. The Spanish highway police does not tolerate such antics. Hence the likelihood of being pulled over for speeding in Spain being high.

For more information about speed limits in Portugal please consult the Portuguese Highway Code Código da Estrada – see external link to Autoridade Nacional de Segurança Rodoviária (ANSR) – only in Portuguese.

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