Ministers have said that a 20mph speed limit will improve road safety by reducing the number of collisions and improving the quality of life for citizens. The Welsh Parliament passed the law in a vote on Tuesday, July 12, and was backed by Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru but opposed by the Welsh Conservatives, who said the blanket rollout is “ludicrous”.
Many towns and cities across the UK already have 20mph limits on residential roads but Wales will become the first to impose a default speed in built-up areas.
READ MORE: New 20mph speed limits welcomed by town but drivers are ignoring them
Campaigners argue that the survival chances of an individual being hit by a car at 20mph rather than 30mph are seven times higher while stopping distances are almost halved.
Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We know that 20mph zones reduce the speed of traffic, reduce accidents – particularly accidents to children.
“We want to see that become the default position right across Wales.”
Speaking after the vote, Welsh Minister for Climate Change Julie James said: “I am delighted that the move o 20mph has received cross-party support across the Welsh Parliament today.
“The evidence is clear, 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.”
She added: “We know this move won’t be easy – it’s as much about changing hearts and minds as it is about enforcement – but over time 20mph will become the norm, just like the restrictions we’ve introduced before on carrier bag charges and organ donation.
“Once again, Wales is leading the way for other UK nations to follow.”
Scotland is looking to enforce 20mph limits in residential areas in 2025.
Natasha Asghar, the Conservatives’ transport spokesperson in Wales, said: “The Welsh Conservatives are not against introducing 20mph speed limits outside schools, playgrounds, places of worship and high streets, but a blanket rollout is quite frankly ludicrous.
“Speed limits like this should be decided by councils in their local areas, not top-down by Labour ministers.”
The legislation is not a blanket speed limit and it will be down to local authorities to decide which roads should remain at 30mph.
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