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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

1 in 6 could face prosecution for speeding on new 20mph roads in Wales

1 in 6 drivers could face prosecution for speeding on Wales’ new 20mph default limit roads, according to a report from a leading transport firm.

In a brand-new follow-up report, data and consultancy firm Agilysis, has unveiled the aftermath of the reduction of speed limits from 30mph to 20mph on roads throughout the country.

The controversial change was rolled out September last year and sparked an ongoing nationwide debate on road safety, compliance and the potential long-term benefits.

The new default speed limit has been met with opposition by some road users and a petition calling for it to be reversed has reached over 468,000 signatures – the most in Senedd history.

The Welsh Government has said that cutting the limit to 20mph will protect lives and save the NHS in Wales £92m a year.

The initial report by Agilysis, published on September 25th, 2023, analysed speeds on nearly 500km of roads in ten Welsh towns and cities, revealing a startling 2.9mph drop in average speeds in just a few days after the new limits were introduced.

The study utilised data from TomTom, collected from hundreds of thousands of journeys immediately after the default speed limit was shifted.

This latest report focuses on the three-month period post-change, covering the same roads as the initial study, employing a new methodology to estimate speed compliance

and discuss potential enforcement scenarios.

Agilysis examined over 7,900 road sections, to reveal the following key findings:

Analysis shows a slight bounce back in speeds compared to the one-week post-change period, however overall average speeds are down by 2.4mph compared to pre-change levels.

There are slight variations across the ten towns and cities included in the analysis, with Bangor experiencing the most significant reduction in average speeds (-3.2mph) and Merthyr Tydfil displaying the smallest change (-1.3mph).

Just over half (52.9%) of all analysed journeys were driven above the 20mph speed limit.

17.9% of all analysed journeys were driven above the enforcement threshold of 26mph, and 5.4% of journeys were driven at speeds above the threshold for a court summons.


Agilysis concludes that while there has been a small increase in speeds since the initial survey, compliance with the new 20mph limits is generally good and shows a general acceptance of the new limit among drivers.

Speed enforcements measures of the new default limit officially began in January and drivers breaking Wales’ 20mph law could face fines and points on their licence.

The Welsh Government has said that initially drivers breaking the limit will be offered roadside engagement sessions with the fire and rescue services as an alternative to prosecution.

The enforcement – know as Operation Ugain – will see roadside teams using speed monitoring equipment to catch offending motorists.

People who are pulled over doing more than 20mph in a built-up area could face a minimum fine of £100 and three penalty points – or an engagement session.

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