Majority still sticking to 20mph speed limit in Wales

11.12 | 26 October 2023 | | 8 comments

The new default 20mph speed limit in Wales continues to bring about a reduction in speed, data from Agilysis shows.

Agilysis sampled routes in Cardiff and Wrexham a month on from the introduction of the 20mph limits on 17 September.

As reported by BBC News, it found speeds had dropped by 2.3mph.

However, this compares with a fall of 3.1mph in the first week of the new limit, when Agilysis carried out a more widespread study.

The analysis also showed speeds of the fastest drivers – the top 15% – dropped by 4.9mph after the first week but this had changed to only a 3.8mph reduction last week.

Richard Owen, chief executive officer of Agilysis and the report’s author, said: “The evidence on this smaller sample of roads indicates there is no room for complacency.

“Although the majority of motorists are sticking to the limit, there will be concerns about the minority who haven’t adjusted their speed choices enough.

“Understanding which roads are seeing lower levels of compliance could be critical in targeting education and enforcement to achieve better compliance.”

The new analysis involved TomTom data covering approximately 10,000 vehicle movements along B4487 Newport Road in Cardiff and A5152 Chester Road in Wrexham.

This compared with a much larger sample of nearly 30 million vehicle movements in Wales in the week after the new limit came into effect.



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    What is happening locally now in built up areas is much as was expected. My eye sees:
    -some drivers strictly following the new 20mph speed limits.
    -some drivers driving slightly slower than 30mph in the new 20mph.
    -some drivers making no reductions to their speed, still driving at 30+mph in what is now a 20mph
    -some drivers driving at 20mph in a 30mph or 40mph because they think it might be a 20mph (despite the signage changes)
    -significant increase in ‘platooning’ with clusters of cars tailgating slower vehicles
    -an increase in the number of ‘overtakes’ of slower vehicles where possible on less busy roads

    These were all expected. We shall see if things settle down or not with passing of time.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

    Pat – I wasn’t thinking so much about observations from the general public which, I agree may differ so much as to be inconclusive, it was more about our own individual observations – the ‘trained eye’ if you like – our own knowledge and experience of the subject can probably tell us more than statistics can. For example, observing improved driver behaviour after modifications to a junction with a poor collision record have been carried out, can be seen straight away without waiting twelve months to see what the statistics tell us.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    You are right Hugh, we can always make observations. In October we ran a small public consultation on a new safe route to school we are constructing. Unsolicited comments from residents regarding the change from 30mph to 20mph on an adjacent local distributor road ranged from “it’s made a big difference to me” to “I haven’t noticed any difference at all”. I wonder what conclusion one to make of such a range of subjective comments from residents living in the same street?

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    While I agree that the longer run data will be interesting, what we have so far already matches exactly what we have seen elsewhere – speeds down by around 3mph, more on faster roads and (maybe most significantly) a much tighter distribution around the new normal. Interesting that they have used median speeds, which are probably a better indicator. All in all a massive success for wide area signed only 20mph limits. Maybe we’ll see a similar initiative somewhere else in the UK. In other unconnected news, this year’s 20’s Plenty annual conference is in Edinburgh on 7th December

    Adrian Berendt, TUNBRIDGE WELLS
    Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

    Rather than wait for outcomes based on statistics though Pat, in the meantime we can observe, in our own neighbourhoods, the effects of lower speed limits on actual vehicle speeds and driver behaviour surely? If the speeds are seen to be lower, then the benefits will follow, some of which cannot be measured anyway.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (9) | Disagree (2)

    Patience patience fellow contributors. Whilst a quick snapshot of vehicle speed reduction on WG sample sites is possible, it is going to be at least 6 months or more likely 12 months before it will be possible to assess any other meaningful OUTCOMES. And that is not taking into account that Stats19 personal injury collisions annual results usually lag considerably behind real time.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (3) | Disagree (4)

    KSI collisions (if any) in 20 limits are only part of the story. There are other benefits from lower speeds in residential areas which can’t be measured i.e. damage only collsions, noise pollution, less stress for residents, protection for animals and wildlife etc. and well.. it’s just more pleasant to live in a quiet neighbourhood without vehicles accelerating and braking needlessly.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (9) | Disagree (3)

    Whilst the reduction in speed is a good thing, can we ask that they release any data in the reduction of KSI’s in the locations where the 20 limit has been applied.

    Stephen Hughes, Derby
    Agree (6) | Disagree (3)

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