As the Welsh government looks to roll out a default 20mph speed limit in urban areas, new research claims the moves will save millions of pounds and untold misery.

Breaking new ground

New research showing a reduction in deaths and injuries as traffic slows down is published today. It comes alongside new survey results showing continued public support for the national roll out of the lower 20mph speed limit next year – a UK first.

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 facts

The new research has been conducted by the Transport Research Institute (TRI) at Edinburgh Napier University. In conjunction with Public Health Wales, it estimates a new default 20mph speed limit on residential roads across Wales will save around £100 million in the first year alone.

This estimated cost saving is the direct result of fewer deaths and injuries.

A 20mph default speed limit is estimated to save more than 100 lives over a decade. What’s more,  it’s believed 14,000 casualties in total could be avoided over the same period.

The figures

A new independent public attitude survey shows the majority of respondents support the moves. In particular a new lower speed limit is seen as a positive move by the Beaufort Research,

Almost two-thirds of people surveyed said they would support a 20mph speed limit where they lived. A further 62% said they wanted everyone to slow down on the roads.

When asked about safety, 64% of people say that 20mph speed limits “makes it safer for pedestrians”. Furthermore, 57% agree that 20mph means “fewer serious collisions on the roads”. Almost half (47%) thought 20mph would make it safer for cyclists.

The future

“The evidence from around the world is very clear,” says Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters. “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.

“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.”