Do You Have to Drive 40 in a Road Work Zone if No One Is There?

Have always wondered whether you are obliged to drive to the new speed limit (i.e. 40) in a road work area if there is literally no one there working. Like on Sundays what pisses me off is that they've still got the 40 signs and all the road work signs up but no one is working, and on normal days as well.

Nowadays I pretty much just drive the normal limit if no one is working, as does pretty much ever other single driver.

However, I'm wondering whether you could technically get fined for driving the normal limit if there is no actual work happening, or not?


  • Yes, if the signs are up, that's the speed. It's ridiculous. Hopefully at some point they will figure out that this is why so many people don't slow down for road works these days, at least 50% of the time there is no one there.

    • +7 votes

      or they are bludging in the truck


      yep that's exactly what I used to believe as well

    • +80 votes

      The 40 speed limit is not just for the safety of construction workers, but also for yours. It can mean that there is a change in traffic conditions, road surface, loose debris etc.

      • If they are working on the side of the road, or grass on the median strip, it isn't of much danger. If this is the case, and you have to go through often, this can be quite annoying.

        • +33 votes

          Next time you're annoyed, just tell yourself you'll only be home 2 minutes later. Or the cost of a commercial break.

          • @Ryanek: It's not the time, it's that they have it up when no work is being done.

            • @brendanm: the sign is as much for changed road conditions as worker safety. on my drive to work currently no workers but three lanes down to two. (profanity) ignoring workzone speed limit and also merging dangerously around cars obeying the signs.

              • @Antikythera: Yoh literally replied to a post where I stated "If they are working on the side of the road, or grass on the median strip, it isn't of much danger".

                • @brendanm: "If they are working on the side of the road"

                  Just out of interest, have you ever "worked at the side of the road", or for that matter, tried doing the job that these workers are doing. If perchance you have a desk job, try putting it out and work with cars passing you at 80-110K 2 meters away.

                  Safety conditions are not set for best-case scenarios…

                  • @terrys: Can people in this thread not follow conversations? I was replying to someone who said that "the speed limits aren't just for the workers, it can also be due to the road conditions".

                    So, when I mentioned them working on the side of the road, I was saying that the signs are left up even if there is no damage to the road surface.

                    At no point have I said that I, or anyone, should be speeding when people are working there.

                    No I don't have a desk job.

            • @brendanm: Shouldnt matter. There could be barricades up and other work being done that may be not be visible from your vantage point.

              • @Piranha2004: The entire site is visible. I wouldn't use it as an example otherwise.

                • @brendanm: So you think it is OK to go through a roadwork area where there isnt an emergency lane and tight concrete barriers just because you cant see anyone working on it? Dont you think it would be wise to drive to the conditions (just like you would if it was raining, slippery etc)?

                  • @Piranha2004: Where did I mention concrete barriers? Where did I mention thinking it's ok?

                    • @brendanm: Your entire argument is based upon seeing physical workers there. There are other environmental factors which you think you can ignore or make a judgement upon. Just because someone is working (or not working) on the side of the road doesnt mean there wont be any danger on the road itself. Its not hard to follow the speed limit, saves you from thinking about pointless things like whether someone is working on the side of the road or not (which in itself is a distraction).

          • @Ryanek: Who watches commercial breaks these days?

          • @Ryanek: Maybe they could take the signs down when they finish each day?

            After all, they’ll only be home 2 minutes later

        • +3 votes

          Sure it may be annoying for you, but the difference between getting hit at 40kmph and 80kmph can be life changing.
          - Personal experience working in hospital and seeing people die or be disabled from car vs car, car vs pedestrian …

          • @bs0: Well John Wick has been hit by a fair few cars in his time , definitely going greater then 40 km/h and he seems just fine. /s

      • This. Forget about who is there. The road condition is often the hazard. It's for your own safety.

        And yes it's an official limit and could be fined.

      • +14 votes

        This this this. I learnt this the hard way a few weeks ago when I was driving through some winding roads on my way home late at night. I was going around 60 which was the regular speed limit and I did ignore the roadworks signs because no one was there at night and there were no cars around. So I'm going through a very slight bend in the road and next thing I know my car is throwing up lots of tiny rocks into the wheel well and body of the car, straight after I established that my car was on these tiny rocks my car was literally floating on the loose rocks (around the size of marbles) on the road and I barely had any traction left and my back end was whipping around like crazy. I almost ended up going straight into a pole but luckily was able to regain control by braking gently while having the car change directions 3-4 times.

        It may seem obvious but sometimes you just don't think that deep into things and might disregard their importance, but now I know that the speed limit is not just there to protect the workers and that there's a lot more to it. It really opened up my eyes and I always stick to the roadworks speed limit now even if it feels safe going faster, because you never know.

        • Well then, I will make sure to bookmark this comment for the next time someone posts this question again.

    • Working in live traffic is statistically up there with an active war zone in terms of fatality risk.

      Slowing down for 30 seconds is a small price to pay for the families of the men and women working.

      The road isn't safe for full speed either until the work is finished.

      • The road isn't safe for full speed either until the work is finished.

        No. The road isn't signed off as safe until the work is finished. It's usually not cost effective to assess the road at every stage of works, so it is assumed to be in it's worst state until the works is complete.

        Major highways or motorways will often have staged works with limited reductions in speed.

    • In SA you can report that there are still speed restriction sigbs, even is no work going on, e.g. weekend, and there is some penalty for Council or whoever is responsible. I've been trawling through the SA Standards (scintillating stuff), but can't find the clause yet.

      Edited for clarity

    • this is why so many people don't slow down for road works these days

      Got some data? I see people going ~110 down the M4 through the 80 zone every day, regardless if work is in progress or not.

      • You've pretty much proven my point.

        • I'm saying they speed while work is in progress too.

          I don't think "oh last time at 9pm there was no work here" is a valid thought process to speed through at 1pm while bulldozers are crossing the road.

          • @abb:

            I'm saying they speed while work is in progress too.

            Yep, that's what I said.

            • @brendanm: Sorry, I didn't read it that way.

              The real thing I was (poorly) getting at was the claim that it's because they think that sometimes there's no work going on, therefore it's ok to speed all the time.

              I dispute that chain of reasoning.

              I think it's because there is no enforcement (i.e. no consequence).

              • @abb: No, it's that people get so fed up with the signs being out constantly, they get upset at roadworks in general, and ignore the signs all the time. As someone else said, it's like the boy who cried wolf.

                Edit- note I'm not saying that is an appropriate way to deal with it, simply that that's what will and does happen.

                • @brendanm:

                  they get upset at traffic in general

                  FTFY. Soooo many people get all upset about not being able to drive everywhere at the normal posted limit. Our whole driving culture is obsessed with speed, appropriate or not and can’t seem to cope with traffic jams, roadworks, police radar, cyclists, slow moving vehicles of any sort.

                  It’s just nuts. I’d guess that many, if not most drivers need to take a chill pill or 7 and learn to deal with driving in a non perfect world. Planning better and allowing for delays makes driving a whole lot more pleasant. (Yes I get frustrated at other drivers as well and sometimes need a dose of medicine)

    • "Hopefully at some point they will figure"

      out that the speeds are set for safety and also because there is an exponential increase in the wear on a road with increasing weight and/or speed. The speed reduction can be because there is loose material, a substrate that has not yet been coated with the final surface, or a fresh surface that needs consolidation before it can take full-speed vehicular traffic taking into consideration the temperature and the possiblity of rain before it has properly set and settled.

      It can be frustrating, but the speed limit isn't to protect the workers you see..

      • The signs are kept out even when there is no damage to the road surface, and no one working. In a lot of cases they aren't even working on the road itself.

        On my way to work they are building an industrial subdivision. There is no work happening on the road at all. There are still "road work" speed limits, when no one is working, even when they are working, they are a mile off the road.

        • Private works shouldn't be allowed to impede the road or footpath in any way - design your construction so you're only using your own land.

    • Who cares, I've only ever seen one cop in my entire life checking speeds in a road work zone, that wasn't even in NSW. It's a joke, that's why nobody cares. If they cared, they'd start policing them.

      • If woolworths cared enough to stop me stealing, theyd put on extra resources to stop me….

        Imagine having to match the effort of 1000's of lowlifes who spend 100% of their energies trying to steal.

        Another way to think of it. Your neighbour is unemployed. He waits at home all day for you to leave so he can rob you. What you gonna do, go off to work and be productive? Most likely you will stay home to protect your stuff. So not only is the scum neighbour not producing anything, neither are you.

        Why cant people just follow simple rules instead of being forced to -_-

    • It's not always because here's people there, it's the unsafe conditions the roadworks create (narrower lanes, rough surfaces, no emergency lane, concrete barriers).

      We have to cater to the average retard, and if you read a dozen comments on this site you'll realise just how much of a retard the average person is.

  • +17 votes

    Yes - for NSW and VIC (as per links below)

    Areas undergoing roadworks
    Speed limits are usually reduced around roadworks. You may see temporary speed signs showing lower speed limits when approaching roadworks. If you pass a roadworks speed sign, you need to drive at or below the speed on the sign. You need to continue driving within the reduced speed limit until you pass a sign showing a different speed limit.The temporary speed limit applies even if you cannot see roadworks being undertaken.

    I can only assume other states too, if others want to post it.

  • sure can
    A ex g/f of mine some years ago was travelling in a 110 zone in NSW at around 2 am went through a road works area that had absolutely no activity but had the signs still up and uncovered, lo and behold she never slowed and up ahead waiting were cops heavily fined lost points only because hoon laws weren't in back then ( she was doing 70 over working area limit) she would've had car impounded etc.

    She did take it to court but beak said no matter what time or apparent lack of activity, the sign says xx speed you must do xx speed

      • road work = more hazard. surely it's for our safety as well isn't it ?

        • +11 votes

          well if someone is getting fined at 2am for driving the normal speed in a non operating road work zone I don't know what else to call that

          • @DisabledUser310944: It’s a road work zone, not necessarily a road working zone. Sometimes it’s put there because the road isn’t up to scratch, hence being worked on as well.

            I can’t tell because. 1 I didn’t drive that piece of road, and 2 I am not qualified to assess a road for its safety etc.

            The point is you can be fined, moaning about it here won’t do diddly squat.
            Likewise moaning to the copper that books you won’t do anything either.

      • lmao wow what blatant revenue raising right there

        You do realise part of the reason why speed limits exist in roadworks areas is to protect your car as well due to poor road conditions whilst the works are being done? A road may be at a certain stage/quality to minimise damage to it at 60km/h, but would be a completely different story hitting that same road at 100km/h.

        Easier to have a blanket rule about the signs than have different rules for different types of road works.

        • +2 votes

          agree its case by case. In my case, digging up the grass the separates the two roads doesn't qualify for road quality imo.

    • Same thing happened to me - no back to 110 sign and the guys were packing up. After I passed the workers I went back up and was 62km/h over

      1 month bike impound.
      $1500 fine

      The prosecutor put the charge down to speeding not reckless as a favour to me (since there was no end roadworks sign) and I got the impound fee back and didn’t lose my license.

      Still 10 demerits or something :(

    • There's also plenty of times that roadworks happen late at nite early morning coz the thinking is there is less traffic or people that will be inconveniencd or they have a deadline looming . So those roadworks speed sign apply at any given time… The works can be happening at any time day or nite.

      • And then at night you get complaints about reversing beepers and other noise. Can’t win. Roadworks need to happen, drivers need to make allowances for said works.

        • They put up roadworks signs and cones up to extend a turn lane a few years ago near where I lived— Two and a half years later, same signs, same cones, no work.

          When the work came, it took them 2 weeks to finish.

          Did they really need to inconvenience the tens of thousands of drivers every day for 2+ years and just remove the signs until the work actually came?

    • I remember this also being a contentious issue for road works in Lane Cove tunnel (NSW). Caused a big uproar since so may people were affected:

  • Aka ; Are you allowed to drive as fast as you want as long as there is no camera or copper to fine you?

    • -10 votes

      did u even read the question

      • Yep; You pretty much asked can I speed if there is no-one there to watch me speed.

        'Nowadays I pretty much just drive the normal limit if no one is working, as does pretty much ever other single driver.'

        Obviously you don't care for the law.

        • -13 votes

          There's a road near my area normally 80, but now changed to 60 with road work signs because of road works and they normally work on week days. On a Sunday afternoon there are no workers there. So on Sundays everyone else drives 80 as the 80 signs are still there as well, and so do I. If that's speeding then yes I don't care for the law.

          • @DisabledUser310944: The don't complain if you get a ticket I suppose.

          • @DisabledUser310944: Normally if there is a change in speed sign, you would slow down because the road sign told you to.

            But suddenly if there is a roadworks sign, the change in speed sign becomes redundant right?
            It's not actually the roadworks sign that changes the speed limit, it's the speed sign. Irrespective of whether or not there is a roadworks sign.

            Get ready to tell the cop one day you were speeding because everyone else was doing it too.


              @gmail92: If there is a change in speed sign then yes I always adjust accordingly. If the change in the speed sign is because of roadworks and its the weekend and no one is working, and they could not even be bothered covering up the normal speed sign, then yes the road work sign is redundant imo. The last time I followed a roadworks sign when there was no work I got rear ended by a van and I'd have another 10 cars tailgating as well.

            • @gmail92: During roadworks they are supposed to cover the normal limit signs if they impose a reduced limit, especially for ongoing works.

  • absolutely yes. Dont be that [email protected]#head that doesnt follow speed signs.

  • I'm guessing their reasoning would be that the road surfaces may be not suitable for normal speed even if no one is working. I normally just drive to the conditions but no more than ~20 over.

  • Always follow the limit, they are not for road work, for hidden Camera to catch someone like you to contribute some of the state budget, anyway, if you can afford, no one can stop what you are doing once the car under your control.

    • Yes the safest thing to do with speeding drivers is to let them speed and then 3 weeks later issue them a fine.

      Ensures all the little kids KMs away tucked away in their beds at night have no risk of getting hurt in the road work zones.

  • As someone who used to work roadside it also irks me that there are many situations that don’t warrant lower speed limits when no one is working. Some times they keep the limit reduced due to changed road conditions, including narrowed lanes, removed shoulder or poor surface.

    Unfortunately the systems set up favour over doing traffic control on worksites. it’s also easier to get approval for 24hr constant speed reduction than it is to apply for variable and deal with the changes that they entail.

    WHS rules, the risks of litigation and for the 1/2 the population stupider than average ensure that we continue to overdo it.


      Well that makes sense if they have to get approval every time they change the speed limit then obviously they wouldn't bother. In my case the road near me is normally 80 but with the road works its turned 60 even though they are never even there working on the weekends, and they've kept the 80 signs there as well. All they're doing is digging the grass in the middle of the road

    • Cue TCAWS manual..

  • Yes roadworks are a pain but you never know what the road conditions could be like.
    There could be an unseen pothole, lack of linemarking, road narrowing, fresh surfacing that wouldn't be rated to higher speeds, unstable surface or contractor/surveyor on site.
    The speed signs would be taken down if the road conditions were able to handle traffic at the normal speed - it's not because of laziness.

    Just because it seems there's no-one there doesn't mean it's safe to do the normal speed. Road work speeds aren't dictated by the number of cars or time of day, it's dictated by the type of works/contractors on site. Court would have a field day with you.

    If you speed through a road works zone, no matter the number of people there then you are endangering yourself and others, it's not a smart choice.

    • Next question; Do I have to drive 40 in a school zone in school times if I don't' see any kids around 👀


      • -9 votes

        you cannot seriously be comparing a school zone to a non operating road work zone. Regardless of whether or not there are kids waiting to cross, there is always the crossing supervisor there.

        • What's the difference between ignoring the law because you didn't see roadworks vs didn't see kids? Nil.

          • -6 votes

            @gmail92: Even if there aren't kids, the crossing supervisor is still there standing on the side of the road. Also you don't know with kids better be safe than sorry. Could randomly just jump out onto the road, and the area is generally congested on a school day. The sign states that its 40 from 3:15 to 4 so its plainly obvious. There are no roadworks happening on the weekend, literally no one follows that on weekends.

            • @DisabledUser310944:

              1. Not every school zone has a crossing supervisor
              2. Workers are just as unpredictable as kids, although I feel this is working against your point.
              3. If school zones were so congested then there wouldn't be the requirement for speed limits, so by your logic traffic should self regulate based on congestion, which to some extent it does naturally, however the limits need to be there for the instances where it doesn't and the road conditions don't suit the speed
              4. Roadworks also happen on weekends, its not confined to just during the week.

                @Drakesy: don't really disagree with anything you said. I always drive 40 for the school zones. Other poster was comparing school zones to the road works and to be fair, I can't really pinpoint a reason why I follow the school zones but not the road work signs. Probably due to the fact that following road work signs when there is inactivity would feel the same as driving 40 in a school zone during the school holidays.

                • @DisabledUser310944: It’s probably comparable to a school zone being all day, not just drop off and pickup times.

                  IMO they should be all day (school days only) as there are often kids around during the day as well, and our local high school has an early day one day a week where virtually all the kids are gone by the time the school zone starts.

            • @DisabledUser310944: literally? I'm sure there are people, like myself, who do….

  • I would still most likely slow down to 40. Next question if no one is around on a deserted road, do you still stop at the red traffic lights and wait till the lights turn green? :)

    • in this situation its more of a give way sign

      • You know what? I was stuck at one such traffic light once. The lights would not turn green for a good 5 minutes. I eventually asked my brother to get out of the car and press the pedestrian crossing button so that the lights would change.

    • Next question if no one is around on a deserted road, do you still stop at the red traffic lights and wait till the lights turn green?

      Do you indicate when there's no-one around? The rules don't differentiate between whether there's other traffic around or not. Most people would say yes and I would say yes too.

      But I remember a case years ago where a cop was parked on the side of the road (not in the main traffic lanes) at night and pulled over a car that didn't indicate to turn. The driver took it to court and the judge ruled that the purpose of indicating was to show your intention to other drivers. And since there were no other drivers around, there was no-one to indicate intentions to. I'm going from memory here and i don't know the exact words that were used, but the charge was dismissed because there were no other drivers around and the cop wasn't in traffic (so he can't claim that he would've benefited from the driver indicating his intentions). I found it to be a very interesting ruling.

      • Yep - always indicate when "there's nobody else around"….because sometimes, someone is. Every driver, I am sure, has had the experience of "where did you come from". Just do it all the time.

        • I used to indicate to park off the driveway at my folks house. It’s just a good habit.

        • You don't have to tell me that - it's a subconscious thing for me. Similar to putting on a seatbelt when I jump into a car.

          The ruling in that case just surprised me and that's why it's stuck in my mind ever since.

  • If you are doing the roadwork limit when no one is working and even if they are, then you become the hazard as others become impatient and overtake, roadrage etc.. could be a 10 to 40k+ speed varience