Spain’s message to Wales on lower speed limits days ahead of 20mph roll out

“There will be some fears beforehand, but everything will become normal quickly and then everything will start to get better.”

That was the message to the people of Wales from one of the key people behind Spain’s move to a 30km/h speed limit.

Álvaro Gómez is Head of the National Road Safety Observatory in Spain and played a key part when the country changed the speed limit on the majority of its roads to 30km/h in 2019.

Since then, Spain has reported 20% fewer urban road deaths, with fatalities reduced by 34 per cent for cyclists and 24 per cent for pedestrians.

Mr Gómez recorded the message with just days before Welsh streets that currently have a 30mph speed limit switch to 20mph.

The move, that has been described as the ‘biggest step-change in community safety in a generation’ comes into force this Sunday (September 17).

Mr Gómez said:

“The main target for us was to reduce the number of serious and fatal incidents in Spanish cities.

“Eight out of ten fatalities in cities are vulnerable road users and this includes pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and e-scooter users.

“Speed is key to reducing risk. We have an older population in Spain and we were concerned about the number of pedestrians who were killed or seriously injured in road accidents.

“We didn’t have any serious incidents with local authorities over implementation. It all went well. Spanish drivers and road users and cyclists and pedestrians are very comfortable with the new limit.

“The main message to people of Wales is that you can do it.

“There will be some fears beforehand but our experience and the experience of other cities across the world is that once it is done things become normal quickly.

“There are no big delays, there is no congestion there is no increase of pollution.

“Everything becomes normal, and everything gets better.”

The change in Wales comes after four years of work with local authorities, police and road safety experts to design a change in law, making Wales the first UK nation to reset the default speed limit for local roads.

Research shows the 20mph default speed limit could save £92m a year by reducing the number of deaths and injuries. It could also help to reduce pressure on the NHS from a reduction in injuries from road traffic collisions.

Over the first decade, it is estimated a lower speed limit will save up to 100 lives and 20,000 casualties.

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