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