From September Wales will become one of the first countries in the world, and the first nation in the UK, to lower the default national speed limit on residential roads from 30mph to 20mph.

The Welsh Government passed the law in July 2022 which will see a default 20mph speed limit placed on restricted roads across Wales. 

Restricted roads are usually located in residential and built-up areas and often have street lights on them (placed no more than 200 yards apart).

This change will be introduced on September 17, 2023.

Eight communities have already trialled the 20mph speed limit:

  • St Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire
  • Llanelli North, Carmarthenshire
  • St Brides Major, Vale of Glamorgan
  • Central North, Cardiff
  • Cilfrew Village, Neath Port Talbot
  • Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
  • Severnside, Monmouthshire
  • Buckley, Flintshire

The change has caused controversy with nearly 50,000 people signing an online petition saying 20mph limits were “causing chaos” and “doing nothing to reduce emissions”.

Why will roads in Wales be restricted to 20mph?

The Welsh Government, on its website, outlines five main reasons for the reduction in the national speed limit on residential roads from 30mph to 20mph:

  • To reduce the number of collisions and severe injuries from them (also reducing the impact on the NHS from treating the people who are injured);
  • Encourage more people to walk and cycle in our communities;
  • Help to improve our health and well-being;
  • Make our streets safer;
  • Safeguard the environment for future generations.

Will all restricted roads be reduced to 20mph across Wales? 

From September 17 all restricted roads in Wales will be reduced from a 30mph to 20mph speed limit. 

However, there will be some exemptions

You can see all the roads set to be impacted by the speed limit change, and the ones that will be exempt at DataMapWales.

The Welsh Government website says: "We recognise not all roads with a currently at 30mph limit will be suitable to change to 20mph.

"These roads will be known as exceptions.

"Local Authorities will consider with their communities which roads should remain at 30mph and there will be 30mph signs to tell you this."