Why do some vehicles get away with exceeding 100 km/h?

There you are, cruising close to the maximum speed limit on the passing lane of the expressway, and behold, a vehicle overtakes on the right at what you are sure is over 100 km/h.

Before we discuss the obvious, there are two things we need to mention: 1) You cannot stay on the ‘passing lane’ if you are not passing anyone and 2) maintaining 100 km/h does not give you the right to hog the leftmost lane.

Now to the pressing question in your head: Did toll management just increase the speed limit, and I did not hear about it?

The short answer: No.

In case you do not know the speed limits, it is the same as what the DPWH set on limited access highways or expressways in 2001 – the maximum is 100 km/h, and the minimum is 60 km/h.

You are probably asking: How can some get away with that?

Well, nobody is getting away with anything. Did you actually think that -with all the CCTV cameras of all shapes and sizes along the stretch of all our tollways- that there is a maneuver you can make that these all-seeing eyes do not spot?

PH Expressways: Does a speed limit 'grace period' exist? image

What is the SOP from SMC Infrastructure tollways?

A representative from SMC Infrastructure Tollways (the company managing SLEX, Skyway, TPLEX, and NAIAX) said management is giving motorists a certain degree of slack. I did not get an absolute limit - not 105, 110, 115, or 120 km/h - because they do not want to make it official. They merely provide ‘reasonable’ allowances for motorists who want to feel the need for (a little) speed, have to hurry home, get impatient behind a slower vehicle, or any of a hundred or more other reasons. Just do not turn into Dom Toretto because, unlike the character of Vin Diesel, they will apprehend you at the exit and lock you up. Well, they'll lock up your license so you'll have to commute. 

The most important takeaway for you as a motorist is the word ‘reasonable.’ As long as it is for short bursts (to overtake) and you do not begin weaving across several lanes or perform a slingshot on the Susana straight, whether over the speed limit or not, you should be fine.

This leniency does not extend beyond the SLEX and TPLEX though. On the Skyway, the max is still 80 km/h. This elevated expressway is relatively straight, but if you go too fast and crash through the side barriers, the consequences of landing on traffic or pedestrians below are dire. The NAIAX and Skyway Stage 3 have the lowest max limit at 60 km/h. It has many bends and turns that pass over residential areas in Metro Manila. The result of tumble-turning all the way down because of speeding will be tragic and catastrophic.

PH Expressways: Does a speed limit 'grace period' exist? image

Memo from MPTC

The answers I received from an MPTC traffic control member were similar to all of the above. The maximum speed limit on NLEX, SCTEX, CAVITEX, and CALAX is still 100 km/h, no more, but it can be a little less (insert smiley).

Yes, there is also a ‘reasonable’ concession for motorists who need to overtake fast vehicles, but MPTC says not to stay that fast for an extended period. Most importantly, come down to the legal speed limit once you have overtaken or they will apprehend you. No, they did not put a specific number on this allowance to prevent abuse. So do not guesstimate and cruise at 105, 110, 115, or 120 km/h. You will not get very far.

Areas along MPTC-controlled limited access roads going through repair – like the viaduct on NLEX right now - have a lower maximum speed limit of 60 km/h, so be mindful.

MPTC took this opportunity to remind motorists using their expressways to always keep to the maximum speed limit and to maintain a safe braking distance to avoid collisions and fender-benders. Also, increase the safe braking distance when visibility is low and at night.

PH Expressways: Does a speed limit 'grace period' exist? image

What about Sunday supercars and superbikes?

Super they are, but special they are not.

I asked both managements about supercars and superbikes, and the reply was unanimous - no special treatment. The 100 km/h maximum limit applies to all, regardless of the horsepower and the torque. Perhaps we just need to see more of them apprehended for speed violations on Sundays.

Ramon S. Ang (president and vice chairman of San Miguel), or Boss RSA for short, said as much in a Zoom meeting with motoring journalists two years ago. He challenged supercar owners to do their racing/speeding on the track, not on the expressways. An owner of a variety of rare exotics like a TVR Griffith 200 and a Ferrari F40 (or so it seems), Ang says he will see you at Clark International Speedway.

PH Expressways: Does a speed limit 'grace period' exist? image

Their safety is the top priority

No kidding, representatives of both tollway management groups said that phrase repeatedly, and I understand where they are coming from. More than half a million vehicles pass through SLEX and the Skyway daily, while NLEX takes a beating from more than a quarter of a million motorized machines. The lives of all these drivers and their passengers are under the purview of the men and women who patrol, monitor, and enforce the speed limits along with other traffic rules and regulations.

So you have to understand why your fun and your rush are a far distant second on their list of priorities because they are busy ensuring everyone gets to their destination safely.

If you must feel the need for speed or are rushing home for dinner, remember to come back down to the maximum speed limit because aside from the danger it poses to you and motorists around you, it is still a violation to go above 100 km/h.