There are 2 units of measurement, namely MPH
(miles per hour) and km/h
(kilometres per hour) used by different countries all over the world to set speed limits and you need to know which country uses MPH
and which uses km/h
before you hit the road.
Speed limits are implemented all over the world to ensure that the roads are as safe as they can possibly be (more on EU road accident statistics here
). The authorities in any given country or state (more on US state speed limits
here) set the speed limits for the type of road and the type of vehicle using that road. Whilst speed limit signs are generally standardized, or at least very clear, the unit of measurement isn’t always as obvious and few, if any speed limit signs actually state the unit. Use our world map to check which countries use mph
and which use km/h
. Just 17 countries use MPH
of the 196 counties in the world (as of 2018), that’s just 9%.
History of Speed Limits
The first speed limit was introduced by the United Kingdom
in 1861 with a maximum speed of just 10 MPH. Imperial units were used back in the 19th century and was the unit of measurement until SI units (Système International d'Unités) were introduced in 1960. Most countries adopted this metric unit of measurement (kilometres rather than miles) and converted measured road distances and speed limits to kilometres (km) and kilometres per hour (km/h
). The UK, USA and Canada retained the traditional MPH
unit as well as numerous UK colonies as shows in the table above.
Converting km/h to mph
There are 1.609 kilmoteres in a mile so it’s quite simple to convert any speed limit from one unit of measurement to the other. The following table shows some of the most popular speed limits in km/h
converted to MPH
Convert mph to km/h
1 mile = 1.609km
– simply multiply the unit in miles by 1.609 to get the speed limit it kilometres
Convert km/h to mph
1 km = 0.62 miles
– simply multiply the unit in kilometres by 0.62 to get the speed limit in miles
km/h (kilometres per hour)
mph (miles per hour)
Is it mph or km/h when renting a car?
If you’re from the UK
(which uses MPH
) and renting a car in Spain
(which uses km/h
), leaving the airport and seeing a 130 speed limit sign on the motorway might be quite a shock. Of course, that 130 refers to km/h
which equates to 80.78 MPH
, still faster than you should be used to driving on UK roads but certainly not 130 MPH
. Getting a speeding fine in a hire car
on your way out of the airport is likely not the best start to your holiday. The table above shows all of the countries which use MPH
and which use km/h
so there is no excuse for not knowing the speed limit unit of measurement when driving anywhere in the world.
Of course, if you’re still unsure, the car dashboard symbols
should give you plenty of clues. If the rental car has an analogue speedometer, the unit of speed will be the primary (bigger) numbers indicated and you should see km/h
clearly shown. If the car has a digital speedometer, again km/h
should be clear after the speed unit.