Wales has become the first UK nation to introduce a new default 20mph speed limit on most residential roads across the country.

The change, which came into force on 17 September, is expected to save up to 100 lives and 20,000 casualties, according to the Welsh government.

“It’s simple – slower speeds save lives and helps create safer communities for those that live there,” said Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change with a responsibility for transport.

“Evidence shows that a vehicle travelling at 30mph will still be travelling at 24mph in the time it would take a car travelling 20mph to stop.

“We know decisions like this can be unpopular and we know that change is never easy, but what’s one minute on your journey time if it saves a life and reduces a lifetime of human misery for families affected.”

The change in Wales comes after four years of work with local authorities, police and road safety experts to design a change in law.

Research has shown the 20mph default speed limit could save £92m a year by reducing the number of deaths and injuries. The Welsh government says it could also help to reduce pressure on the NHS from a reduction in injuries from road traffic collisions.