Does the 20mph Speed Limit Help Keep Roads Safe?

For most people, the 20mph limit was put into place as a way to protect people from the risk of harm. However, one of the most pressing questions for most people is whether or not it’s actually helped to deal with the problems caused by speeding. A recent report published about roads in Wales has found that the 20mph speed limits have only seen a real reduction in speed of just over 2mph. The report was published by a company called Agilysis, and it looked at the behaviour of drivers for a month after the scheme was introduced. The study found that even though the schemes were in place, drivers weren’t actually cutting their speed in any meaningful fashion - disobeying the new rules in the process. These new limits have been a bit of a contentious topic for a while across Wales, and there’s even been a petition which was signed and put to the Welsh Government which called for the whole thing to be scrapped.

Limits and RestrictionsThe analysis which Agilysis created looked at one sample area, and had data from more than 10,000 vehicle movements. The details of their report has shown that the information was collected automatically using a combination of location technology and information generated via new cars which have data-collection tools provided by the manufacturers. A close examination of the changes in speed showed that once the scheme was introduced - after the first week - the average speed of motorists in the sample area had dropped by 3.1mph on average. However, this fell to 2.3mph after a month of the new rules being in place.

An Expert OpinionRichard Owen was the author of the report, and the CEO of Agilysis. He had the following to say about the report: “The evidence on this smaller sample of roads indicates there is no room for complacency. Although the majority of motorists are sticking to the limit, there will be concerns about the minority who haven’t adjusted their speed choices enough. Understanding which roads are seeing lower levels of compliance could be critical in targeting education and enforcement to achieve better compliance. To add some context, the industry usually considers the top 15% – referred to as the 85th percentile – as an indication of where to look at speed management, whether that’s engineering like speed bumps or gates or some kind of enforcement. However, it seems no one can yet enforce the 20mph limits anywhere in the UK because the equipment needs to go through a type of approval process and the government system is so backlogged and has been for about a decade, things are taking an age to make it all the way through.I was at a conference this week where understandably 20mph was raised a few times and they talked about an updated report which reviewed similar schemes in Scotland, Ireland and England and the effect it’s had on casualties.”