The new 20mph default speed limit in Wales could save £100m in its first year as deaths and injuries are reduced, according to new research.
The Welsh Government will introduce a default 20mph speed limit on restricted roads across Wales in September 2023. Restricted roads include those with street lights and are usually located in residential and built up areas with high pedestrian activity.
The new research, conducted by the Transport Research Institute (TRI) at Edinburgh Napier University, in conjunction with Public Health Wales, estimates the default 20mph speed limit will save around £100 million in the first year alone.
The estimated cost saving is the direct result of fewer deaths and injuries – with predictions that the lower limit will save more than 100 lives over a decade and 14,000 casualties in total could be avoided.
Lee Waters, deputy minister for climate change, said: “The evidence from around the world is very clear – reducing speed limits reduces collisions and saves lives.
“Slower speeds also create a safer and more welcoming environment, giving people the confidence to walk and cycle more, which will help to improve our health and wellbeing and help to improve the environment.
“This new research shows the savings in terms of reductions in people being hurt or killed but the benefits of 20mph stretch much further than casualty savings alone. The report suggests the lower speed limit will help encourage physical activity and in turn reduce obesity, stress and anxiety.”
Meanwhile, a new independent public attitude survey, conducted by Beaufort Research on behalf of the Welsh Government, shows the majority of respondents support a new lower speed limit.
Almost two-thirds of people surveyed said they would support a 20mph speed limit where they lived and 62% said they wanted everyone to slow down on the roads.
When asked about safety, 64% of people said that 20mph speed limits “makes it safer for pedestrians”; 57% agreed that 20mph means “fewer serious collisions on the roads” and almost half (47%) thought 20mph would make it safer for cyclists.
Lee Waters added: “As with any change we know it will take time for people to adapt. But I’m pleased to see the early indications show a majority of people are in favour of 20mph, and I am confident that if we all work together, we can make the necessary changes that will benefit us now and in the future.”