Last week North Wales Live reported that Welsh Government is cutting the speed limit on a busy North Wales A-road to create a 20mph “buffer”. Wales introduced a 20mph default limit on most 30mph roads in September – a controversial move that has triggered a huge backlash.
This has left some situations where 50mph and 60mph limits merge into 20mph zones – meaning a quick de-acceleration if coming into the lower limit. It was for this reason that Welsh Government chose to change the limit on the A5 on a section between Llangollen and the village of Berwyn.
It’s going from 60mph to 40mph. Welsh Government said was “intended to improve road safety by creating a buffer zone between the length of the A5 trunk road which is currently subject to a 60 mph national speed limit and the 20mph speed limit through the town of Llangollen”.
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With scores of roads across Wales in a similar situation, North Wales Live contacted the government to see if they would take a ‘blanket’ approach and taper limits on all areas where speeds change dramatically.
The Welsh Government – which has control over trunk roads like the A55, A5 and A470 – said the same approach would not necessarily be taken on every section. They said changes would only be made if “deemed appropriate”.
Powers to make the changes on other roads lies with local authorities. Welsh Government has this advice for councils.
They said: “In some circumstances it may be appropriate to consider a ‘buffer’ speed limit of 40mph prior to the 20mph terminal speed limit signs at the entrance to a community, in particular where there are outlying houses or features beyond the community boundary or roads with high approach speeds. For the latter, highway authorities might also need to consider other speed management measures to support the speed limit message and encourage compliance.”
They added: “Observations from the implementation of a wide area 20mph speed limit in the Scottish Boarders where some buffer zones (of either 30 or 40mph) were introduced at the onset of the trail found that comparative analysis of speeds with and without buffer zones did not provide evidence to suggest that they would help to reduce speeds further. However, the Welsh Government evidence shows that buffer speed limits are popular with communities.
“As such, highway authorities will need to apply their own discretion and judgement in determining whether a buffer speed limit is appropriate in areas where the speed limit reduces to 20mph from a higher speed.
“Other options to improve compliance such as signing on the approach may be more appropriate. Gathering analytical speed data post-intervention, as well as other suitable records such as safety-related evidence, will enable the Authority to compile a case justifying the need to consider introducing supplementary measures at a problematic site.”
William Turner is a seasoned U.K. correspondent with a deep understanding of domestic affairs. With a passion for British politics and culture, he provides insightful analysis and comprehensive coverage of events within the United Kingdom.