New regulations which have come into force in Wales today (31 March) mean that all new traffic signs must feature the Welsh language first.
The new regulations are the order of the Welsh Language Commissioner, under new Welsh Language standards set out in the Welsh Language [Wales] Measure 2011.
Until now, local authorities in Wales had the power to choose which language was displayed first on their traffic/road signs, with many choosing English.
However, the new regulations say: “When you erect a new sign or renew a sign (including temporary signs) which conveys the same information in Welsh and in English, the Welsh language text must be positioned so that it is likely to be read first.”
In September 2015, public bodies across Wales were told which services they would be required to provide in Welsh, giving them six months to prepare for the change.
The 2011 ONS Welsh census revealed that just 19% (562,000) of residents in Wales said they could speak Welsh – a decrease of 2% from the 2001 census estimate – and only 15% said they could speak, read and write Welsh.
The census also estimated that 73% of residents had no skills in the Welsh language.
A 2012 report by TRL into bilingual signs in Scotland concluded: “While there is reasonable evidence to infer bilingual signs increase the demand of the driving task, drivers appear able to absorb this extra demand, or negate it by slowing down, which ultimately results in no detectable change in accident rates.”