Welsh 20mph speed limit is a success, claims government | Road safety

Welsh 20mph speed limit is a success, claims government | Road safety

Welsh ministers have claimed their controversial 20mph limit rollout has proved successful after figures suggested speeds on many roads had dropped by 4mph.

However, opponents of the scheme say the modest reduction shows the policy has been a “monumental” waste of money and called for it to be scrapped.

The Labour-led government said Transport for Wales monitored the speed of millions of vehicles in nine communities and found that average speeds on the 20mph roads it had studied fell from 28.9mph before the rollout to 24.8mph.

When it launched the scheme last year, the government said it did not expect all motorists to immediately drop their speed to 20mph but argued that any reduction was good for other road users.

The government said research showed a strong link between lowering speeds and decreasing the number of collisions and people injured. On urban roads with low average speeds, there is an average 6% reduction in collisions per 1mph reduction in average speed, it says.

Lee Waters, the deputy minister for climate change, said: “The latest data published today is clear evidence that average speeds are coming down on roads across Wales.

“We’ve still got a way to go, but it’s encouraging to see that things are moving in the right direction. Every 1mph reduction in speed makes a real difference – so this is a real turning point.

“The international evidence is clear: lower speeds saves lives – that’s fewer collisions, fewer deaths and fewer severe injuries, reducing the devastation to individuals and their families and the significant impact on the NHS and other emergency services.”

Natasha Asghar, the Welsh Conservative shadow minister for transport, said: “These findings prove what a monumental waste of time and resources from the Labour government the 20mph limit has been. On day one of a Welsh Conservative government, this barmy policy would be scrapped, and common sense would prevail.”

The chief executive of the road safety charity Brake, Ross Moorlock, said: “It’s encouraging to see how the new 20mph speed limit has reduced the overall speeds of these roads.

“Every day, five people die on UK roads and speed is a factor in every crash. The faster we drive, the greater our risk of crashing, and the harder we hit if we do crash.

“We hope that governments and local authorities across the UK will take Wales’s lead and adopt 20mph as the default speed on roads where people and vehicles mix.”

Both the candidates to replace Mark Drakeford as first minister next month have expressed concerns about the 20mph scheme. Vaughan Gething said the government had got some of the messaging wrong but that he wanted it to work. Jeremy Miles said it was the right policy but a review needed to be brought forward.

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