Ask LH: Can You Speed Up To Match Speed Limits Before You Pass The Sign?

Dear Lifehacker, Is it legal for me to begin acceleration when a speed increase sign is visible or does it have to be readable? I drive on the Mitchell in Perth five days a week taking the same route. I start in an 80 zone and know exactly where the increase to 100 sign is. When that spot is visible I begin acceleration.

Recently I received a speeding ticket from about 80 metres past that point. In the photo below, my car is parked about 20M behind the point where the radar gun was used. Any thoughts? Thanks, Speed Off

Speed limit picture from Shutterstock

Dear SO,

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re 100 per cent in the wrong here. Contrary to popular belief, it’s illegal to start accelerating when a speed sign becomes visible. It’s also illegal to start accelerating when the numbers are readable.

In short, you’re supposed to wait until after you pass the sign; never before. The WA Department Of Transport safety handbook spells out the rules pretty clearly:

You must not exceed the legal speed limit for the road or area in which you are driving.

This is one of those road rules that motorists tend to ignore and most traffic police turn a blind eye to. Nevertheless, it’s still the law and you were unquestionably in the wrong by speeding up prematurely.

There’s a small chance a judge will take pity on you if you decide to contest the fine in court. Your chances of success will depend on your driving record — having no previous infringements will definitely work in your favour, especially if you’ve been driving for many years.

With that said, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. At the end of the day, the fault was entirely yours. The fact it’s an illogical law that most motorists break is unfortunately irrelevant. Rules are rules.


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