New 20mph speed limits throughout Wales introduced next year
Wales is set to enforce a 20mph speed limit throughout residential areas next year in a bid to encourage reduced car use.
Although many towns and cities have introduced new lower speed limits, Wales will be the first to introduce 20mph as the standard limit on all restricted roads by law, with Scotland set to follow suit in 2025.
The speed limit will apply on restricted roads, in residential areas and busy pedestrian streets, where streetlights are less than 200 yards apart. Anyone caught speeding could face a minimum £100 fine and three penalty points when the changes are made in 2023.
With an aim to promote public transport and bike use instead of cars, the new lower speed limit is actually being opposed by half the country.
During the trial period, some motorists were complaining of more congestion and journeys taking longer. Also, residents living in rural locations have complained the new speed limit will cause issues as they lack alternatives to their car with no reliable public transport links nearby.
They argue that cycle lanes and other alternatives should be provided first before any changes come into place to give them the opportunity to travel as recommended.
Adie Drury, from Flintshire, started a petition against the new speed limit. She told the BBC:
Nobody is in favour of worsening safety on the roads or making it more dangerous for children and people to cross the road but at the same time, people have got busy lives. We've no cycle lanes, have narrow lanes and public transport is poor. We don't all live in Cardiff and have Cardiff's infrastructure, public transport and industry on our doorstep.
However, the Welsh government claim that improved road safety and a reduction in average speeds could result in a £58m saving over 30 years because of reduced emergency service demand and subsequent hospital treatment.
According to research from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), pedestrians are 40% less likely to die if hit by a car travelling at 20mph compared to 30mph. RoSPA has also encouraged wider use of 20mph limits as a "considerably less expensive" way than introducing traffic calming measures, adding it "greatly improves the character of a residential area and quality of life for residents.”
As well as encouraging more eco-friendly means of transport, the reduction in speed limit is primarily to diminish the number of casualties on the road, particularly in children, as 20mph zones have been proved to reduce accidents to children, according to Welsh government.
Jeanne Evans, Partner in our Personal Injury department, said:
It is a controversial decision but from the perspective of one who sees the devastation caused by life changing brain injuries, to individuals and to their families, any initiative which reduces the incidence of those accidents is a positive step.