A CHARITY has called for Scotland to follow the Welsh lead and implement a default 20mph speed limit – as new legislation is set to come into effect in Wales this weekend.

Living Streets Scotland, a part of the UK-wide charity aimed at encouraging walking in local areas, is calling on Scottish Government to reduce speed limits by 2025 at the latest.

Wales will become the first UK nation to adopt a 20mph default speed limit on residential roads when new legislation comes into effect on Sunday, September 17.

The legislation will mean that most roads which currently operate as 30mph areas will reduce to 20mph.

READ MORE: Fergus Ewing facing disciplinary action vote at SNP MSP group meeting

It is estimated that the move will save around six to 10 lives every year, result in 40% fewer collisions and prevent up to 2000 people being injured.

Research by Edinburgh Napier’s University’s Transport Research Institute found that setting the default speed limit at 20mph on residential roads in Wales would reduce pressure on the NHS from a reduction in injuries from road traffic collisions, saving around £92 million each year.

A Welsh Government report estimated the direct costs of introducing the 20mph default would be £32.3m, meaning the savings in the first year would far exceed the initial costs.

The Scottish Government announced plans for 20mph to be the norm on built-up roads by 2025, but Living Streets Scotland is worried that progress has been slow.

As it stands, local authorities can decide to implement 20mph limits, but the charity warned that the current 30mph default makes this is a lengthy process.

Councils in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders have already switched to the 20mph limit, but while this is a step towards their goal, the charity says this creates an inconsistent picture and is calling for a national default of 20mph.

Stuart Hay, director at Living Streets Scotland, said: “Introducing 20mph as the default speed limit on our residential streets will improve the places where we live, work, and go to school.

“When someone is hit at 30mph, they are around five times more likely to be killed than if they were hit at 20mph. This is - quite literally - life-changing legislation.

“Without a national default there is an inconsistent picture across the country with individual councils left with the arduous task of implementing their own 20mph limits.

READ MORE: Majority of Scots view immigration as positive, poll finds

“We need to see the new Transport Minister follow Wales’ lead and champion the switch over to a national default of 20mph.

“Without progress it’s unlikely that national road safety targets will be met. Until all councils implement local 20mph schemes on all suitable urban streets, road safety remains a local postcode lottery. Scotland needs to copy so all streets are safe by 2025 at the very latest, given the swift and decisive roll out in Wales.”

Wales is not alone in bringing about similar legislation in Europe. In 2019, Spain reduced the speed limit to 30km/h (18.64mph) on many of its roads, resulting in 20% fewer urban road deaths in the period since, with fatalities reduced by 34% for cyclists and 24% for pedestrians.