The Welsh Government’s introduction of a default 20mph speed limit on restricted roads across Wales will come into force from 17th September 2023.
The success of this ambitious national scheme, the first its kind in the UK is dependent on motorists’ awareness and compliance.
Unless otherwise indicated, restricted roads, those with streetlights no more than 200 yards apart, will be subject to a 20mph speed limit by default, this will apply to all classes of motorised vehicles.
Teresa Ciano, Chair of Road Safety Wales, acknowledged the significance of this development: “While this change will require adjustments to driving and riding behaviour, there are practical measures that can assist motorists to remain compliant with the new legal limits.
“The following tips from Road Safety Wales are intended to help motorists modify their driving/riding to adhere to the law and avoid penalties for exceeding the speed limit.”
Allow enough time for your journey. When exceeding the speed limit, drivers often say they were running late and attempting to make up the time by travelling faster than the speed limit.
Be calm before you ride. Being stressed or angry affects control and can make their driving/riding more erratic. Maintaining control helps to reduce the impulse to speed.
Know the limits. Look for signs showing changes to the speed limit, especially near junctions or roundabouts and check your vehicle’s speedometer when transitioning from higher speed roads so that you can reduce your speed before reaching the sign.
Occasional glances at the speedometer will help you stay within the limit. As a motorist, you already do this in any speed limit, so travelling on a 20mph road should be treated the same way. It will soon feel natural to travelup to 20mph in residential areas.
Reducing the speed you ride at won’t significantly increase your travel time in residential areas. If you travel 1 mile at 30mph it takes 2 minutes. If you travel 1 mile at 20mph it takes 3 minutes.
Driving/Riding at a reduced speed could improve your observations and give you more time to react. It should make your driving smoother, help you notice hazards more easily, and can reduce rider stress.
Recognise what could make you travel too fast. Think carefully about any overtaking, or your reaction to tailgating. If loud music causes you to drive faster, avoid it.
Remember, speed limits are a maximum, not a target. It may be necessary to drive below 20mph to maintain safety. Concentrate on the riding task and avoid distractions which divert your attention from the road.
Speed limits apply 24/7. Don’t be tempted to exceed the speed limit because it’s dark outside or because the road seems quiet. You can be prosecuted for speeding at any time of the day or night.
Look for streetlights. The presence of closely spaced streetlights can be a good indication that you are travelling on a 20mph road, unless a speed limit sign tells you otherwise.
To find out more about the change from 17th September, please visit the Welsh Government’s FAQ page.