AVERAGE speeds on Wales' roads have dropped by 4mph since the new 20mph default limit came in, it has been revealed.

Preliminary data published today, February 20, has come from millions of vehicle speeds in nine different communities across Wales.

It shows speeds have fallen from an average of 28.9mph before the reduction in September, to 24.8mph.

The Welsh Government has cited research showing a six per cent reduction in collisions for every 1mph reduction in average speeds on urban roads.

Deputy climate change minister Lee Waters, with responsibility for transport, said the figures were “clear evidence that average speeds are coming down”.

“We also know from data published by Go Safe earlier this month that 97 per cent of drivers are complying with the new slower speed limit - behaviours and attitudes towards 20mph are beginning to change," he said.

County Times: Lee Waters MS believes 'attitudes are beginning to change' towards 20mphLee Waters MS believes 'attitudes are beginning to change' towards 20mph (Image: Newsquest)

“We’ve still got a way to go, but it’s encouraging to see that things are moving in the right direction. Every 1mph reduction in speed makes a real difference – so this is a real turning point,” he said.

“The international evidence is clear, lower speeds saves lives – that’s fewer collisions, fewer deaths and fewer severe injuries, reducing the devastation to individuals and their families and the significant impact on the NHS and other emergency services.”

'Positive differences'

Ross Moorlock, chief executive of road safety charity Brake, said it was “encouraging” to see the reduction in average speeds.

“Every day, five people die on UK roads and speed is a factor in every crash. The faster we drive, the greater our risk of crashing, and the harder we hit if we do crash,” he said.

“We know that road crashes have a devastating impact on families and communities. Sadly, we see this first-hand every day through the work of our National Road Victim Service, which last year supported more than 1,500 families who have been bereaved by a road crash or suffered catastrophic, life-changing injuries.

“We hope that governments and local authorities across the UK will take Wales’ lead and adopt 20mph as the default speed on roads where people and vehicles mix."

The independent review team for the 20mph policy has also published an initial report into the exception roads.

Andrew Morgan, chief executive of the Welsh Local Government Association, said council leaders welcomed the review which could help them make the “right choices” for their communities.

“Councils want to engage with the review to ensure we have the right speeds on the right streets,” he said.

“Whilst there appears to be some roads where the speed limit isn’t right and there is a need for local authority review, we have heard from some councils that positive differences have been seen in the speed and safety of their streets, particularly amongst vulnerable people.”