Wales’ default speed limit drops to 20mph

August 21, 2023 by

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New legislation from the Welsh government means that the default speed limit in residential and built-up areas will drop from 30mph to 20mph. Read on for all you need to know.

The default speed limit in Wales has been dropped from 30mph to 20mph in built-up and residential areas. The changes will come into effect from 17 September 2023.

From that date, the maximum speed you can drive on “restricted roads” will be 20mph. The Welsh government defines a restricted road as “roads with street lights spaced no more than 200 yards apart, usually located in residential and built-up areas.”

There are multiple reasons the Welsh government is making this change, mainly focussed around safety. It claims that lowering the speed limit will reduce the number of collisions and severe injuries from them, as well as encourage people to walk and cycle instead of driving.

The new 20mph speed limit was trialled in eight areas around Wales to help overcome any issues before a national rollout. The pilot areas are:

  • Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
  • Central North Cardiff
  • Severnside, Monmouthshire
  • Buckley, Flintshire
  • Cilfriw Village, Neath and Port Talbot
  • St Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire
  • St Brides Major, Vale of Glamorgan
  • Llanelli North, Camarthenshire

These pilot schemes are going to be continually monitored to check long-term compliance, as well as the environmental and health impacts and casualties.

There will be some exceptions to this new speed limit on roads where a 20mph limit would “not be appropriate or feasible”, and a 30mph limit will remain. Roads which don’t have a significant amount of pedestrians or cyclists using or crossing them are eligible for an exception, as well as roads where the pedestrians and cyclists don’t mix with motor traffic.

There are also proposals for 30mph “buffer zones” to act as a transition between higher speed limits and the new 20mph zones.

Work to prepare for the changes on September 17th is already underway, including removing redundant 20mph signage and installing new poles in places where new signs will be required.

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