The 20mph speed camera enforcement is expected to have a big impact on traffic and fines when it come in with the new lower default urban limit in Wales on 17 September.
Figures released by the Department for Transport covering speeding in Britain last year show compliance has improved over Covid-19 hit 2021 and was broadly similar to the levels between 2011 and 2019.
The survey also covered 20mph through-routes, and although a small sample, it showed 85% of cars exceeded the set limit and 16% were over it by at least 10mph. The percentage over the limit rose to 86% at weekends and was higher at night.
RAC head of policy Simon Williams said, “It’s concerning to see that every year half of drivers exceed the limit on 30mph roads, with more than a fifth (22%) last year driving more than five miles an hour too fast.
“The implications of speeding on these roads is likely to be greater than on faster roads, not least as they’re generally in areas with more pedestrians and cyclists.
“One possible explanation for why speed limit compliance is so much worse compared to other roads is that drivers may be used to looking for speed limit signs, which are much less prevalent on 30mph roads as generally speaking the presence of streetlights indicates the limit is 30mph.
“While drivers should know this, perhaps there is a case for the use of more ‘repeater’ signs in 30mph areas so there is no doubt.”
In a motoring survey of its own last year, the RAC pollsters were told the main reason given by drivers for exceeding the 20mph was they believed it was “inappropriate for the road”.
He added, “Research by the RAC suggests compliance with 20mph speed limits is quite poor with an increasing number of drivers believing the limit is inappropriate for the road. Rather than setting a default 20mph limit on all restricted roads it would be better to target areas where they are most needed – for example on residential roads or in areas where there is high footfall – as opposed to main ‘arterial’ roads where there are few pedestrians.
“However, even if compliance with new 20mph limits is poor, it should lead to an overall reduction in speeds which will have a positive effect on road safety. Better still, would be to enforce existing limits regularly to encourage drivers to slow down and to modify roads to prevent drivers from going too fast in the first place, for example by constructing traffic islands, well-designed speed humps or chicanes.”