THE WELSH Government has provided a list of 'things you may not know about' the incoming default 20mph speed limits for Wales' roads.

From September 17, most 30mph speed limits in Wales are changing to 20mph.

This will make Wales one of the world’s first countries to have a default 20mph limit. 

This is, according to the Welsh Government, to 'keep our communities safer and improve quality of life'.

In the lead up to the introduction of Welsh Government’s new legislation for 20mph speed limits, eight communities across Wales were selected for the first phase of the national programme. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

As part of this Phase One Settlement Scheme, 20mph speed restrictions were introduced in Buckley, Mynydd Isa, New Brighton, Drury, Burntwood, Bryn y Baal and Alltami on February 28, 2022.

And, although generally in favour of 20mph on residential estates and around schools, hundreds of residents expressed concerns about its introduction on main roads and streets.


Ultimately, it is expected that local authorities will have the final say on which roads will be subject to default speed limits.

But, ahead of the changes, the Welsh Government has released a list of seven things you may not know about the 20mph speed limit.

Here's what they have said ...

The new 20mph default speed limit will save lives

"The evidence is clear, decreasing speed limits reduces collisions and saves lives. Previous research (The state of the evidence on 20mph speed limits with regards to road safety, active travel and air pollution impacts: August 2018) has shown that there are 40% fewer collisions in areas with 20mph compared with 30mph.

"In Wales, it has been estimated (Twenty miles per hour speed limits: a sustainable solution to public health problems in Wales) that with widespread introduction of 20mph, 6 to 10 lives would be saved and 1,200 to 2,000 casualties avoided each year. The value of preventing these casualties is estimated to be £92m each year.

"As well as making collisions less severe when they do happen, the slower speed also increases the chances of avoiding a collision in the first place, in turn reducing the burden on the NHS. Prevention is better than cure!"

People living in 20mph communities do support the new speed limit

"Evidence from a survey (Traffic Orders and 20mph public attitudes survey) conducted on behalf of the Welsh Government showed that 80% of people supported a 20mph speed limit in their area – that’s four in five adults. And in places across the UK where 20mph has been put in place, support has increased after implementation.

It will improve the environment and help create safer communities

"Whatever car you have, getting to 30mph requires more than twice as much energy as getting to 20mph. People surveyed say that traffic speed is a barrier to walking and cycling for short journeys, so by lowering the speed limit, we’re helping to create safer, quieter, and more pleasant environments where people feel safer to walk and cycle, further reducing air pollution and benefiting people’s health and the local economy."

The new speed limits are reducing speeds

The Leader:

"30mph speed limits for residential areas were set before World War II, when there were far fewer cars on the roads and speed limits were set without the wealth of research and data that we have now.

"Research indicates that the majority of drivers observe speed limits on residential streets, with findings from speed monitoring work in one of the pilot 20mph schemes in Wales showing that only around 6% of drivers required enforcement action to be taken against them, in the form of advice, a speed education course or other action."

It is not a blanket speed limit

"Currently 30mph is the default speed limit for streets with street lighting, but there are variations to that limit marked by signs on the road. In the same way, under the new 20mph legislation, local councils can use their local knowledge to retain a 30mph limit where there is a case for doing so.

"These 30mph roads will be marked by signs in the same way that variations from the current default speed limit are used."

20mph speed limits are already used in other countries

"The benefits of reducing speeds are becoming recognised in other parts of the world. 120 countries from across the world signed the Stockholm Declaration on Road Safety in 2020, agreeing that reducing the speed limit to 20mph will improve road safety.

"In 2021, Spain set speed limits in urban streets to 30km/h (equivalent to 20mph) and now other European countries have 30km/h limits for most of their urban/village roads.

"Closer to home, areas like central London, half the largest 40 urban authorities in the UK and whole rural councils like the Scottish Borders, Lancashire and Cheshire West and Chester have already made 20mph the default speed limit for residential streets."

The new 20mph default speed limit will come into force in September 2023

"The Senedd passed the legislation (The Restricted Roads (20 mph Speed Limit) (Wales) Order 2022) to bring in the new default speed limit across Wales by an almost two-thirds majority.

"From September 2023 approximately 35% of the roads in Wales (by length) will become 20mph. This will arguably be the biggest change to Welsh roads since the wearing of seatbelts was made compulsory in 1983.

"It is a change, but over time like wearing a seat belt in a car, adapting your driving to the new speed limit will become as natural as driving at 30mph is now!"