carwow reacts to Wales’ new default speed limit of 20 mph

September 13, 2023 by

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Wales has introduced a default 20mph speed limit, read on for carwow’s reaction.

Wednesday 13 September: New legislation from the Welsh government means that the default speed limit in residential and built-up areas will drop from 30mph to 20mph.

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.”

Paul Barker, Managing Editor, said, “Drivers will have to do some serious mental adjustment to account for the arrival of widespread 20mph zones in Wales, and we’d urge authorities to ensure there’s equally widespread signage and information to avoid drivers being caught out by a poorly advertised new limit. The 30mph urban limit has been in place for getting on for a century, and speed awareness courses even teach that roads with streetlights and no signage can be assumed to be 30mph limit, so large areas of 20mph zones require a complete reset of driving instinct.

“These zones have proven unpopular with motorists when introduced on a big scale in places including London and Brighton, so despite the claimed safety and pollution benefits there is going to be a difficult transition period if 20mph is going to become the new 30 in urban areas.”

A third of the population of England live in areas where 20mph is the norm, but 30mph remains the national speed limit on single and dual carriageways with street lights unless signs say otherwise.

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

  • 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.

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