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Why doesn't Google Maps show speed limit?

This seems like such a glaring oversight to me. With all the information Google has at their disposal, displaying the speed limit of the road you are currently on in their Maps and Navigation should be trivial. Hell, they use speed limit data to calculate your arrival time.

So I assume they have some non-technical reason for not making this info available as an extra layer.

I'm aware that other nav apps does show speed limit. So maybe this is a legal/patent issue?

Is there any work-around to this (without completely switching to another nav app?) Maybe a lightweight app that shows the speed limit on the notification bar?


#1 trale, Mar 28, 2013
Seems to me it would be impossibly complicated, dealing with the speed limits in a million municiplaities, each with a million speed zones. And by the time a dev got it together, limit changes would cause it to be wrong all over the place.
#2 jefboyardee, Mar 28, 2013
Perhaps you can contact the developer and ask them for this feature in the future.
#3 Stuntman, Mar 28, 2013
I'm with the OP... many other apps have this data at their disposal. Its a shame not to display it.

I'd like to see my current speed AND speed limit displayed... that would be my ideal setup.
#4 sloheim, Mar 28, 2013
Go here and look for CamerAlert which also gives you speed limits plus much more
Pocket GPS World - SatNavs | GPS | Speed Cameras Forums-viewtopic-App tells me to update but dont know how
#5 sleeco, Mar 29, 2013
I stand corrected, albeit whilst sitting. Not only is CamerAlert available at Google Play, there’s several others.
#6 jefboyardee, Mar 29, 2013
Garmin has had this feature for years so it must not be that difficult. In my vehicle I have a Kenwood nav unit and Kenwood uses Garmin for it's nav piece. I generally tend to use that and the fact that it shows my current speed along with the posted speed limit has a lot to do with that. It seems that at minimum Google could include the current speed on the display as that's a pretty simple code/hardware feature. The posted speed limit would require a fair amount of effort on Google's end assuming they didn't record this data when they were recording everything else on the face of the earth but I have a hard time believing that with all the data they recorded.
#7 OstrichSaK, Mar 31, 2013
Impossibly complicated? This is google here man. They are on the way to making cars that drive themselves! Do you realize how friggin trivial this is compared to that?
#8 Hendu71, May 29, 2015
My guess is that it has something to do with liability. I'm actually more interested in traffic, which it does a decent job of.
#9 Unforgiven, May 29, 2015
Possibly could be liability, but then there's many other GPS and mapping apps, that do show road speed limits and even give warnings if you're travelling too fast for the indicated speed limit. But then usually you check or agree to a TOS or disclaimer when you use the particular app, "We are not responsible, use at your own risk...yada..yada..yada" :thumbsupdroid:

If the traffic police books you for speeding, "But this app said driving at this speed was OK.", because it had wrong or out of date information, they will still book you. And you can't go suing Garmin, TomTom or Waze for your speeding conviction.

The actual speed limits are on the road signs in most countries I know of.

#10 mikedt, May 29, 2015 Last edited: May 29, 2015
And do you realize that you're arguing with something I said over two years ago?
#11 jefboyardee, May 29, 2015
I asked this question several years ago and was told that Garmin owns the speed limit data and that it would be too expensive to buy/license.
#12 JimSmith94, May 30, 2015
Speed limit data is public information. Garmin doesn't own it.

My guess is that it's one or more of the following reasons:
  1. Google doesn't want to incur the liability.
  2. It's just not high on their priority list. Heck, Google owns Waze but Google Navigation doesn't display Waze's cop/hazard data-- which I find REALLY helpful.
  3. As a corollary to #2, most people (like me) wouldn't use such a feature and would turn off any kind of annoying warning it would give. Speed warning apps have been around for many years but I've never heard of any of my friends using one.
#13 RazzMaTazz, May 30, 2015
My TomTom also knows speed limits, though obviously these can change so you need to update.

But as has been said, if you tell a cop "my satnav said this was a 50 speed limit" they'll just tell you that the road signs say it's 40 and that's what matters. So I doubt liability is a big factor. Maybe they just don't think it's worth the effort needed to keep it up to date?
#14 Hadron, May 30, 2015
My guess on liability is information overload. There are some places here (I can't remember if it was a local juristiction or US DOT) that want to limit the refresh rate for nav apps in addition to limiting any other bells and whistles displayed. They are trying to regulate out stupidity.:(
#15 Unforgiven, May 30, 2015
Actually that does sound more plausible to me, than Google trying to avoid dimwit speeding conviction lawsuits, which is what I originally though.

In the UK, the type of road you're driving on should give you a very good idea of the speed limit anyway, and especially so I've you have a driving license, :D Like 70MPH for motorways, unless driving a truck, bus or towing something, then it's 60MPH. 30MPH on single carriageway roads in a built-up area etc, occasionally it's 20MHH, which will be clearly stated on signs. Very likely similar for the US as well, and most other countries, including China.

Can get some apps and devices, there's no display at all, and it's just for speed warning, based on the mapping database, and often has locations of speed and red-light cameras as well.
#16 mikedt, May 30, 2015 Last edited: May 31, 2015
Actually, a lot of erroneous data and info about GPS has been posted, and which company owns what, etc.

The real issue relates to the cost of data acquisition and Return On Investment (ROI) for such data. In addition, there are many potential liability issues if the information is incorrect. This is why good GPS database updates cost so much money. Lots of good GPS navigation databases contain speed limits, but they are rarely free.

Here's some brief history on GPS and the industry.

Having spent many years in this area, GPS used to have a significant amount of intentional errata, which has been eliminated since around 1999. That being said, the GPS databases out there are compiled by essentially one of two companies, each using their own unique methods of information acquisition.

That being said, there's really only one source that's truly reliable, and that's from Navigation Technologies Corp., or NavTeq. They've been around since 1985, originally from Germany, and they actually used low-flying aircraft to document roadways and locations, then drove each of the roads and documented such things as overpass heights, locations of mailboxes, actual addresses (not approximations) and other geographic data.

Imagine you're a long haul trucker traveling the path your GPS tells you, only to find out you can't make it under the overpass, and you have to take an alternate route that's hundreds of miles out of your way. Yes, that used to happen often, if the database wasn't from NavTeq. Likewise if you were to punch in a non-existent street address, the NavTeq database would know that address doesn't exist and the corresponding app might ask you if you wanted one of the nearby addresses.

I imagine most people can see why this road data can be pretty valuable information, knowing if someone gave you a wrong address or directions to a destination. But, speed limits are a completely different matter, often changing in states, counties, cities, and local regions way more frequently than the GPS database companies such as NavTeq can keep up with. Even Wiki's attempt to make speed limit maps open source failed rather miserably, years ago.

There are datasets out there that offer speed limits, such as the navigation within my Lincoln vehicle. However, it's only as good as the latest database update, subject to the accuracy of the data within it and, I'm not concerned enough to spend the hundreds of dollars to update the database. It works well enough.

The bottom line is this, if having speed limits for each and every road for a given area is important for you, expect to pay for accurate information, sometimes frequently. Even then, the data for speed limits may still be incorrect. As examples, the State of Washington just increased its max. highway speed limit in August 2015, Nevada and Montana are increasing their max. speed limit on some highways to up to 80 MPH, effective October 1, 2015. In addition, many states allow county, city, and even smaller communities govern and change their own speed limits, updating them as they see fit.

I don't plan on updating my database now in August, then again in October, just to maintain the correct speed limits for those states, especially when it's doubtful the regional speed limits would be correct.

So, until and unless someone invents an automated manner to collect and catalog the speed limits from each and every neighborhood community, city, county and state, between each and every waypoint, on a very regular basis, the speed limit information at anyone's fingertips will most likely continue to be constantly flawed. Hey, even GasBuddy has to rely upon people reporting gas pump prices as they sometimes fluctuate daily (or even hourly these days).

Having speed limits for every area may be a good idea, just next to impossible to maintain accurately. The speed limit information you rely upon may be very wrong, and could result in a speeding ticket and hefty fine. It's doubtful any judge or jurisdiction would waive any fines on the basis of relying upon any GPS navigation technology or database.

Even Google Maps only updates their Street View Maps every few years for many highly populated areas, and there could have been many speed limit changes in between. In lesser populated or more rural areas, they might not drive through for Street View updates for a decade or more.

Hopefully this can resolve the questions and concerns of people in this area.
#17 PianoManinSoCal, Jul 21, 2015
Personally I am going to with the Occam's Razor explanation - they just don't think it is useful enough to do. Which is a shame as I would find useful, perhaps in the future.
#18 fdbryant3, Jul 22, 2015
Google has the speed limit data, but currently makes it available only to applications that who pay for their enhanced API. See example and documentation at https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/roads/speed-limits
#19 Whelanh, Jul 26, 2015
I use Ulysse Speedometer Pro for that and it can be set to running in background with audio that beeps when exceeding speed limit.

I do not recommend wedging it in anywhere to use a Cycle (Motorcycle/Scooter/Dirt bike/) speedometer as the continuous vibrations will cause a device to break down rather quickly depending on mfgr quality.
#20 bcrichster, Jul 26, 2015
I've also tried the Ulysse Speedometer Pro, which bcrichster mentioned (that's how I got to this thread), but it only seems to have the Speed Edge feature. That doesn't actually show you the maximum speed on the current road, but rather guesses it according to your current speed.

Since I also missed this feature, my company developed Maps Speed Limits for this. It is based on Nokia Here data, so quite accurate (at least for my region).

See https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amphebia.mapsspeedlimits
#21 Peter_l, Sep 9, 2015 Last edited: Sep 9, 2015
Here maps by Nokia is free on Android, Windows & iOS. It has current speed display & speed limit data as standard.
It is worth knowing that the version of Google maps that links in to Android auto compatable cars does have current speed and speed limit displays but as far as I know it uses traffic sign recognition in conjunction with downloaded speed limit data to calculate speed limits.
It is now fairly common for new cars to have traffic sign recognition and my car even when not connected by Android auto to my phone willflsh up an on screen warning when the recognition systems detect a change in the speed limit on roadside signs.
#22 TeethAndClaws, Nov 13, 2015
Are you aware if any of the cars are forcing the cruise control to back off to the stated speed limit?

that would have been very helpful for me just two days ago.
I day dreamed myself right into a slower speed zone with the cruise on.... have not had a speeding ticket in years, and got stopped for 67 in a 45! the 67 was set back in a 70 zone.
not good, hope that I can wrangle a day in class to keep that off my record.
#23 AZgl1500, Nov 13, 2015