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Default 20mph speed limit weeks away from introduction in Wales while London will bring new limits in next year and Scotland will do the same in 2025

By Tom Gibson | July 11, 2023


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1 in 3 English Councils have also brought in 20mph zones but research suggests there has been no tangible benefit

Default 20mph speed limit weeks away from introduction in Wales while London will bring new limits in next year and Scotland will do the same in 2025

Around 28 million of us live in districts where local councils have set 20mph speed limits in built up areas and those numbers will increase further when Wales amends its own default speed limit to just 20mph on September 17th.

Transport for London will lower speed limits, dropping from 30mph to 20mph or 40mph to 30mph on over a third of its 367 mile network by next year while Scotland will join the 20mph club in 2025.

Despite there being such an appetite to press ahead with what seem like over the top speed reductions, there’ve been increasing numbers speaking out against the schemes.

Legal expert Nick Freeman, has said the policy fails to factor in the design and technology of modern cars - and instead called for 25mph limits.

My Freeman told MailOnline: “As automatic cars are more free rolling, it means that even on the slightest decline such vehicles are likely to exceed the speed limit when that limit is as low as 20mph.

“So, while they [drivers] constantly brake, they are more likely to fixate on the speedometer and less likely to concentrate on what is happening on the road around them. So ironically 20mph zones actually pose a greater threat to road safety.

“But since 20mph zones are here to stay, these restrictions should only operate at peak times and in certain locations - such during school drop off and pick up times. There is simply no sense in having a blanket 20mph limit – not least on empty roads, say later in the evening or at less busy times during the day.

“The problem is that legislation isn't drafted by those who understand the roads or the law. Or if they do, one wonders if such lawmakers have a more fundamental agenda – to get cars off our roads?”

Others have pointed out that Sadiq Khan’s rollout of 20mph zones just continues his ‘war on the motorist’ and it wouldn’t surprise us at all if these zones were heavily policed to help reduce the £255m hole that missed ULEZ payments are currently leaving in his finances.

Research supporting the introduction of 20mph zones has shown that one in 40 pedestrians die when hit by a car going at 20mph, compared to one in five at 30mph.

And Dr Sarah Jones, Consultant in Environmental Public Health for Public Health Wales, added: “The evidence is clear that reducing traffic speeds has multiple health and wellbeing benefits.  It improves road safety, reduces noise pollution and over time will help to tackle air pollution.”

However, a four-year Government study that began in 2018 found that 20mph zones had failed to make roads safer while another in November last year also found they had “little impact” on crashes, casualties and driver speed.

Do you support their introduction or is this approach too heavy-handed? Let us know.

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