Twenty’s Plenty As Wales Changes Law

Mon 18th Jul 2022

Motorists driving in built-up residential areas will be forced to lower their speed to 20mph after the Welsh government became the first in the UK to take drastic measures to reduce accidents and noise pollution.

While the move will anger many who are frustrated at the prospect of crawling along at ‘Sunday Driver’ speeds, the evidence suggests that the switch could have a significant impact, with the chances of survival seven times higher following a collision at 20mph rather than 30mph. 

There is already major opposition to the proposed changes, with even a Welsh government back survey finding that more people were against the lower limit than were for it. It is believed that the 20mph zones are leading to more congestion and adding to journey times following a trial in Wales, but if approved the new laws will come into force in September 2023.

The move is likely to be followed by Scotland in 2025, and many local authorities in England already implement similar restrictions. With stopping distances halved by the change, all of the major political parties in Wales have backed the move.

“We're united in our belief that this change will bring about a reduction in road collisions and their severity, while creating more opportunities to walk and cycle in communities," said Plaid Cymru's transport spokeswoman, Delyth Jewell.

"A 20mph speed limit in built-up areas will allow us to work toward providing convenient, safe, pedestrian access to the places people need to go."

The trials have been criticised by many across the spectrum, with some motorists even complaining that the new lower limits see the bizarre sight of cyclists overtaking cars. But the move has been given the green light by Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford who said: “We know that 20mph zones reduce speed of traffic, reduce accidents - particularly accidents to children," Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford told the BBC.

"We want to see that become the default position right across Wales."