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Reduced speeds on 20mph roads a ‘turning point’ says Deputy Minister

21 Feb 2024 4 minute read
A 20mph road sign

New preliminary 20mph data published today shows that speeds have reduced by an average of 4mph on main roads since the national rollout of the default 20mph speed limit.

The data, which was collected by Transport for Wales, monitored millions of vehicles’ speeds in nine different communities across Wales before and after implementation.

Data gathered shows the average speeds on main roads dropped an average of 4mph – from 28.9mph to 24.8mph.

The controversial road regulation came into force in September last year and saw most roads in Wales that were 30mph switch to 20 – although councils have discretion to impose exemptions.

The Welsh Government says research shows a strong link between lowering speeds and decreasing the number of collisions and people injured.

On urban roads with low average speeds, there is average 6% reduction in collisions per 1mph reduction in average speed.

Attitudes

This downward trend in speeds is also supported by the phase one data in the final monitoring report from the first phase implementation areas which has also been published today.

Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with responsibility for transport, Lee Waters said: “The latest data published today is clear evidence that average speeds are coming down on roads across Wales.

“We also know from data published by Go Safe earlier this month that 97% of drivers are complying with the new slower speed limit – behaviours and attitudes towards 20mph are beginning to change.

“We’ve still got a way to go, but it’s encouraging to see that things are moving in the right direction. Every 1mph reduction in speed makes a real difference – so this is a real turning point.

“The international evidence is clear, lower speeds saves lives – that’s fewer collisions, fewer deaths and fewer severe injuries, reducing the devastation to individuals and their families and the significant impact on the NHS and other emergency services.”

The new default speed limit was met with some opposition in Wales following the roll out and a petition calling for it to be reversed has reached over 468,000 signatures – the most in Senedd history.

However the Welsh Government says the policy will save lives.

Reduced

Commenting on the latest statistics, the Chief Executive of the road safety charity, Brake, Ross Moorlock added: “It’s encouraging to see how the new 20mph speed limit has reduced the overall speeds of these roads.

“Every day, five people die on UK roads and speed is a factor in every crash. The faster we drive, the greater our risk of crashing, and the harder we hit if we do crash.

“We know that road crashes have a devastating impact on families and communities. Sadly, we see this first-hand every day through the work of our National Road Victim Service, which last year supported more than 1,500 families who have been bereaved by a road crash or suffered catastrophic, life-changing injuries.

“We hope that governments and local authorities across the UK will take Wales’ lead and adopt 20mph as the default speed on roads where people and vehicles mix.”

Alongside publication of the national data, today the initial report by the independent Review Team, which is looking into the setting of exceptions to the default 20mph limit, has been published.

The report sets out a series of early findings and initial recommendations.

Speaking about the work of the independent review team, WLGA Chief Executive, Andrew Morgan said: “Council leaders welcome the review of the implementation and the current guidance to help them make the right choices for their communities. Councils want to engage with the review to ensure we have the right speeds on the right streets.

“Whilst there appears to be some roads where the speed limit isn’t right and there is a need for local authority review, we have heard from some councils that positive differences have been seen in the speed and safety of their streets, particularly amongst vulnerable people.”

Cost

The Welsh Conservatives have heavily opposed the change due to its cost and the party has promised voters that if they were ever in power in Wales, they would axe it.

Natasha Asghar MS, the Welsh Conservative shadow minister for transport, said: “These findings prove what a monumental waste of time and resources from the Labour Government the 20mph limit has been.

“To sacrifice billions of pounds from the Welsh economy all for the sake of 4mph may satisfy Labour, but it is not a trade the Welsh Conservatives would be willing to make.

“On day one of a Welsh Conservative Government, this barmy policy would be scrapped, and common sense would prevail.”


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Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

Well looks like dire warnings (from Tories in Sunderland among others) that life in Wales as we know it would end when the new speed limit was introduced have proved to be completely wrong

Robert
Robert
1 month ago

The Conservatives just pander to their lunatic fringe supporters. The waste of money would be if they were to scrap it. Not that these people will get into power in Cymru.

Cilfái
Cilfái
1 month ago

Now I’m used to it I don’t mind it at all.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Wait for it… grrrrr

My renewals for owning a car are off the charts, my breakdown cover just went up up a few quid short of a ton after a similar increase last year (shopping around has the same increases). Petrol is still, high, road tax and insurance increase, but 20 eh? Grrrrr 20.

Now, how many times can I sign that petition?

Richard 1
Richard 1
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

The 20 limit seems to be the wrong target for your wrath. Maybe most of the people who have signed that petition made the same mistake

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard 1

I might have over egged it. Poking fun at the petition (I would not sign it ever). I was on the fence at announcement but certainly didn’t see it as an infringement on my “right to whatever”. I am still interested to see where it will lead and hope it delivers. It does not impact me. But the Cons will game it as a war on the motorists forgetting the real war has been going on for some years, hence high car running costs. It was only after the cons lost a massive number of votes at Uxbridge clinging on… Read more »

David RJ Lloyd
David RJ Lloyd
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff

i suppose you’ll blame welsh politicians for these rises in driving cost which sre a direct consequence of tory uk government mishandling our economy

Last edited 1 month ago by David RJ Lloyd
Richard 1
Richard 1
1 month ago

OK, bu lets not put too much faith in averages. There are still people who flout the limit. A high proportion of the vehicles that pass my house in a side street in Llandrindod are still doing 40 mph. And some of those are vans with well-known brands, clearly in no fear of being punished. Maybe I can do something about that

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

The Tory statement on not willing to trade billions of pounds for a 4mph speed reduction, that would save lives here in Cymru, contrasts well with the billions that went to Tory peers, friends, and party donors to provide useless PPE, that saved nobody during the pandemic, and has been written off, says everything about them.

Glen
Glen
1 month ago

Should it not have been reduced by 10mph to be trumpeted as a success?
A 4mph reduction could be attributed to poor weather conditions and dark mornings and evenings.

David RJ Lloyd
David RJ Lloyd
1 month ago

this article starts off colluding with tory waffle of “ speeds have reduced by an average of 4mph on main roads since the national rollout of the default 20mph speed limit”. let’s be clear this is NOT a default speed limit otherwise every road would be restricted to 20mph. as in the waffle pumped out by andrew rt davies re blanket speed limits. both these are totally misleading & shouldn’t be peddled out by nation wales . a correction would be appreciated!?

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