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New research details ‘astonishing’ impact of Wales’ 20mph speed limit after first week

25 Sep 2023 3 minute read
A 20mph speed limit sign. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

A new analysis of traffic data, released one week after Wales introduced a default 20mph speed limit, has revealed what researchers described as an “astonishing” impact on traffic speeds across the nation.

The data compiled by transport safety specialists Agilysis explored the impact of the new speed limit on traffic speeds over hundreds of miles of roads in Wales.

The headline statistics show a 2.9 mph drop in speeds on the surveyed roads, averaging 19.77 mph compared to 22.67 mph the week before the change.

The data and subsequent analysis used traffic information along main routes in ten towns and cities in Wales, totalling 261 miles in length in the period one week before and one week after the switch.

The independent research used GPS data provided by TomTom, which allows for a rapid analysis of traffic data within 24 hours.

The sample used over 25 million vehicle movements on the Monday-Friday, 6am-6pm periods in the two weeks either side of the change. The full report included figures showing changes in each of the ten towns, the change in speed profiles along all roads, and a sample impact analysis for journey times.

The report concludes that the drop in average speeds “should provide incredible safety benefits to pedestrians and cyclists as well as an expected improvement in air quality to all residents and road users”.

The roads included in the survey are in Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, Wrexham, Rhyl / Prestatyn, Merthyr Tydfil, Lampeter, Bangor, Haverfordwest and Newtown.

Sample analysis of two routes has indicated a journey time increase of between 45-63 seconds along the two 2.5km routes in Cardiff and Wrexham.

Changing behaviour

Richard Owen, Agilysis CEO and the report’s author said, “The immediate impact on traffic speeds in Wales has been astonishing, and far greater than many would have predicted.

“Welsh drivers are, on the whole, accepting lower speed limits and have changed their behaviour accordingly. There will remain some drivers who choose to break the limit by significant amounts but the drop in speeds on the fastest urban roads has been marked.”

Speaking about the groundbreaking new data made available for this research he added: “Advances in data science and the increasing number of connected vehicles on our roads have enabled this analysis and research to take place in a matter of days, where previously we may have had to wait weeks or months.

“Road authorities and police forces now have access to new data that enables them to understand general patterns of behaviour, and pinpoint roads where further action may be required.”

Agilysis are experts in the analysis of transport data and have carried out many research reports for clients such as the World Bank, World Health Organisation, National Highways, and local authorities in the UK.

As TomTom’s UK partners the company says it is in a unique position to provide analysis which will precede the official Welsh Government report by several months.

Backlash

The introduction of the new speed limit has sparked a fierce backlash among some members of the public in Wales.

A petition launched calling for the repeal of the laws has passed 400,000 signatures, making it the most popular Senedd petition of all time.

On Saturday, a march against the speed limit’s introduction attracted over one hundred protesters.

Next week Lee Water’s, the minister who led the introduction of the new 20mph speed limit will face a Conservative no confidence vote.

Welsh Tory transport spokeswoman Natasha Asghar said: “His position is untenable, it’s time for him to go.”


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Rob
Rob
1 month ago

What any sane person would have said, without the evidence, now the proof is there, 20 mph is good.

Marc
Marc
1 month ago

Welsh Tory transport spokeswoman Natasha Asghar said: “His position is untenable, it’s time for him to go.” So says the woman who wanted to turn her back on Welsh politics in a bid to become the next Mayor of London

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
1 month ago
Reply to  Marc

That London with many 20mph zones already and will be introducing more.

Rhobert Davi8s
Rhobert Davi8s
1 month ago
Reply to  Nobby Tart

AH yes! You may not like the 20mph but at least you know when you are in it a 20 mph and don’t have to guess.

Ieuan Evans
Ieuan Evans
1 month ago
Reply to  Marc

Natasha…its time for you to go. Like (F)ARTY Davies you are complete waste of time, anti Welsh and of no benefit to Cymru.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

This evidence proves that the 20mph limit is having a positive effect and any hostility has been whipped up by Andrew RT Davies & Welsh Conservatives who are responsible for fanning the flames on social media for their own narrow minded political ends. What a bunch of losers! 🥴🇬🇧 #WelshConservatives
#NeoNastyParty

Huw Williams
Huw Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Well said

stuart stanton
stuart stanton
1 month ago

As a cyclist with almost 60 years of survival on mostly English roads, I cannot wait to come home to Wales. Best action by the Senedd in I don’t know how long.

Arthur
Arthur
1 month ago

I was very close to being taken out on zebra crossing yesterday by a cyclicst who was going hell for leather in a new 20mph zone i was 2 thirds of the way across, he had no intention of giving way. I had to stand still to avoid him hitting me.
It is not good that the new law only applies to some road users and not others.

Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur

If a cyclist crosses a zebra crossing as you say then that would not be lawful.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Llyn

Only problem is reckless cyclists cannot be identified if they crash into you or your car. No number plates etc. Cyclists in my area of Cardiff are going 30/40 mph with impunity, on pavements, footpaths and parks.

Stuart Cane
Stuart Cane
1 month ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

I agree that cyclists should not be on pavements and should be taking care on shared paths and should be stopping for crossings and traffic lights.
However, a professional cyclist will go at around 25 mph on the flat while amateurs will be well under 20 mph. The idea that cyclists are somehow reaching 30-40 mph on a pavement is nonsense!

Silenced!
Silenced!
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur

So the problem seems to have been that specific cyclist. Not the 20mph limit

Peter
Peter
1 month ago

I wonder how many drivers in Wales will now welcome the removal of the hundreds of thousands of speed bumps that are no longer required. The bumps cause premature failure of suspension components on their vehicles costing very expensive repairs.
What, you mean the government don’t intend to remove them, why not?

Ap Kenneth
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter

If traffic on those roads can be proved to be largely sticking to the limit a slow removal would be welcome. It affects the smaller pedestrian friendly cars more than the SUV?Defender types anyway.

Rhobert Davi8s
Rhobert Davi8s
1 month ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

Traffic humps are a nightmare for some people with painful disabilities.

Silenced!
Silenced!
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter

Traffic bumps are put in place because some people refuse to obey speed limits near schools and in places where councillors live. Lowering the speed limit will not make these clowns change their behaviours.
Do what I do. Stick to the speed limit and these bumps do NOT ruin your suspension. I mean, it’s NEVER happened to me

Alison
Alison
1 month ago
Reply to  Silenced!

Correct

Asking the Obvious
Asking the Obvious
1 month ago

Unfortunately they may have used the wrong statistic with ‘If average speeds reduced by 1 mph, the accidents fall by 5%’ ———————————————————– It depends on the methods used also not increasing risk and the average traffic speeds staying below the speed limit. It may not help to tell everyone that 20mph is safer! Pedestrians could think it’s ok to play in traffic – or that truck will stop for me. The published stats say that 1% of restricted roads are 20mph and 93% are 30mph. Therefore the number of accidents in 20mph should be about 1% of those in 30mph.… Read more »

Asking the Obvious
Asking the Obvious
1 month ago

Anyone who presses the down button, say why there were 42KSI in 20mph last year rather than 4KSI – the equivalent in 30mph limits. We need to know why 20 came out worse.

Silenced!
Silenced!
1 month ago

Because you are not telling the truth?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

It is not just the speed of impact but type of car, a 4×4 is twice the weight of a mini…

Asking the Obvious
Asking the Obvious
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

and also how likely you are to step out in front of a vehicle.
Tell people it’s safer at 20, are they more likely to try it?
– see the stats x10 KSI per mile in 20mph why?

Huw Williams
Huw Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Thats a red herring, speed of impact is still the largest predictor of outcome.

Ap Kenneth
1 month ago

So far it generally feels calmer driving around Wrexham, more time to see what is going on and seeing the surroundings in more detail. It will be interesting to see whether flow improves but that I think depends on the stress people feel, whether caused by work or dropping kids off for school. Been there in the past and know it is not easy to change but personally believe watching Ashley Neal (driving instructor Liverpool) videos can help us see the bigger picture and our own faults.

Iago Traferth
Iago Traferth
1 month ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

Absolutely I was able to drive slowly past a stunning plantation of Japanese knotweed the other day.

Mike Davies
Mike Davies
1 month ago
Reply to  Iago Traferth

Exactly, your looking around when you should be concentrating on the road.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
1 month ago

Another ‘astonishing impact’ is that it’s clear that a huge number of our fellow compatriots are more concerned with getting somewhere a few minutes faster than with our nation’s fight for its very existence. Mair a’n gwaredo.

Pkelly
Pkelly
1 month ago

Give it a chance. If everyone is slowing down then no one is going to be more late or slow than anyone else. Slowing down a bit in towns and cities is pleasant and less stressful, and if fewer people get killed all the better. Life is too fast as it is and this change should be welcomed as a small example of the dial of life and anxiety being turned down.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Meanwhile the good people of Trawsfynydd are asking for a reduction of the speed limit on the A470 from 60mph to 50mph and a footbridge over this fast bit of road for school children and the many dog walkers and exercisers who make up the other pedestrians. They have a point given the three road junctions in the space of 600 yds and say WG are being tin-eared and are slow to respond to their pleas for some help. WG are very happy to plonk a nuclear reactor in their midst though…

Asking the Obvious
Asking the Obvious
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

What’s the accident rate like for the road with 60mph? There’s a separate debate to be had for the accident rate for the reactor 🙂

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

If you can read Welsh see BBC Cymru…

Asking the Obvious
Asking the Obvious
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Thanks – it’s not clear why they believe 50mph would make it safer, generally there seem to be more accidents on lower speed roads – that’s the trouble when humans are involved! How much is a bridge?

Lionel
Lionel
1 month ago

Quite aside from the Wales 20mph, since the new highway code was introduced I have had three incidents of pedestrians assuming I can stop on a sixpence, stepping into the road with complete disregard for their own safety. Coincidence? I don’t think so, I passed my test in 1975 and this is all new to me.

Dark Mrakeford
Dark Mrakeford
1 month ago

So, that’s it? The average speed has dropped by 3mph from 22 to 19? The fact that the average speed was 22 already really boggles me what is the point of reducing it to 20 anyway. I don’t like the ULEZ 15 min city tin foil hats or opportunistic tories, but the speed change seems entirely unnecessary and is just going to give police the opportunity to criminalise people for what was a non-issue to people (30mph limits). There is a temptation by people to oppose this purely because the tories are rallying to it, but that’s just flagrantly ignoring… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Dark Mrakeford
CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Dark Mrakeford

“what people see as appropriate i.e. 20mph for schools/hospitals/built up areas.” A lot of those interviewed on tv and radio trot out the – l agree with the schools/ hospitals/built up areas line. So far I’ve not heard an interviewer challenge this. Children don’t just appear outside schools, pedestrians don’t just appear outside hospitals. Those who walk to schools and hospitals will be doing so alongside roads which used to have 30mph limits. If 20mph limits encourage more parents to get their children to walk to school (as it has in Bristol)then that’s a bonus for drivers who will have… Read more »

Erisian
Erisian
1 month ago

“On Saturday, a march against the speed limit’s introduction attracted over one hundred protesters.”
.
Meanwhile, in Bangor 10,000 marched for something far more important

gary smith
gary smith
1 month ago

It is not wise to separate Wales and the UK and Ireland on such issues as speeds on roads. It makes Wales look too strange and wierd ….. a driver going into Wales has to adjust his thinking and habits and style of driving . This is a silly move by a Welsh Assembly in a country that has NEVER been a State anyway and tragicly voted against the EU by being big in support of Brexit when the EU was the only path to Statehood. The Assembly is local government by comparison. Its only income now is from Westminster.… Read more »

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  gary smith

A driver going into Bristol has to adjust his (or her) thinking and habits and style of driving .to their 20mph limit..

I’ll leave it to you to give your views on Bristol’s history and why that history means that their introduction of a 20mph limit makes Bristol too strange and weird and is a silly move.

Hywel
Hywel
1 month ago
Reply to  gary smith

Yet another raised on the Daily Heil Book of Welshie History.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago
Reply to  gary smith

As long as you remember that we now have different urban speed limits from you next time you visit our country, you’ll be fine. You’ll also find that driving in Wrexham, for instance, is now less stressful and safer.

There’s no ‘Welsh Assembly’, by the way. We have a parliament, which we call the Senedd.

Keith B
Keith B
1 month ago

We have a 30 limit on our road but most drivers ignore this and travel at, I guess 40. If they bring in 20 limit I would be more than happy as it might slow the traffic to 30.

Hilary Smith
Hilary Smith
1 month ago

Its about forcing the general public out of cars and onto cycles, foot or public transport…and then taxing bicycles instead of cars…

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