National speed limits to be slashed to 20mph in major driving law change – ‘necessary’

UK motorways: Highways England warns drivers of speed limits

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The Welsh Government wants the national default speed limit on residential roads and busy pedestrian streets to be slashed to 20mph. The plans will apply to all roads where street lights are not more than 200 yards apart – usually seen in residential and built-up areas – where the default speed limit is 30mph. 

There will be some exceptions, based on criteria linked to the number of houses, schools, community centres and shops alongside the road.

Councils can look at that criteria and decide whether to keep the 30mph speed limit on specific roads.

First Minister Mark Drakeford told the Senedd in 2019 that he wanted the default speed in Wales to become 20mph and a recommendation was drawn up by a specially-designed taskforce.

While enforcement of the speed limit is a matter for the police, Cardiff Council is working with GoSafe and the Government during the first trial phase to develop an enforcement strategy. 

Pilot schemes have been rolled out in a number of areas across Wales, with more trials set to take place in March in Cardiff and Port Talbot.

The Welsh Government ran a consultation between July and September 2021 and found that 53 percent of respondents said they were against the 20mph speed limit.

This included 47 percent who were “strongly against”, with 41 percent “strongly in favour” of the law change.

According to Wales Online, Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for climate changes, with responsibility for transport, said the evidence was clear.

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He added: “Decreasing speeds not only reduces accidents and saves lives, but helps improve people’s quality of life – making our streets and communities a safer and more welcoming place for cyclists and pedestrians, whilst helping reduce our environmental impact.

“As with any cultural change we know it takes time to win hearts and minds and inevitably we will face some challenges.

“But I am confident that if we all work together we can make the necessary changes that will benefit us now and in the future.”

This comes as new data has found more than half of Britain’s drivers routinely break the speed limit in built-up areas, according to the Department for Transport.

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