New driving law is given ‘initial backing’ and will soon affect drivers across the country
New driving laws which will see 20mph speed limits introduced across urban areas in Wales received support by the Senedd in an initial hearing yesterday. It comes after a report commissioned by the Welsh Government urged ministers to introduce legislation for the scheme “as quickly as possible”.
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Last year, First Minister Mark Drakeford said it was an aim to introduce more 20mph schemes across the country.
Campaigners across Wales have previously highlighted that the UK lagged behind the UK on the issue.
However the new scheme will see 20mph limits introduced in urban areas on a national level in a complete world first.
Although other nations around the world have 20mph schemes in place, these are organised by local authorities rather than on a national basis.
Deputy Transport Minister Lee Waters revealed he hoped the scheme will tackle “high risks speed limits in rural areas” as well as focusing on urban streets
He warned that 80 children were killed or seriously injured on Welsh roads in one year revealing the urgent need to get the scheme up and running.
He said: “Whilst we have made progress on reducing deaths on our roads in the 21 years of devolution, despite our considerable efforts there are still 4,000 accidents which result in injuries every year in Wales.
“The evidence is clear, reducing speeds reduces accidents, reducing speed saves lives and slower speeds in our communities improves quality of life.”
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However, the scheme was met by opposition from Brexit Party member David Rowlands who said the inky way to reduce accidents was to “return to walking”.
He joked that speed reductions should also be applied to motorways as this would “save more lives”.
He said: “This constant reduction in speed could be applied to our motorways – a 30mph speed limit on these would save far more lives.”
However analysis of similar localised speed limit reductions reveals a dramatic decline in the number of accidents and fatalities on the road.
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As part of their analysis, the Welsh 20mph task Force Group revealed that Bristol’s localised speed limit saw a reduction in four fatalities and 11 serious accidents each year.
But the wider implications were also vital with deeper analysis revealing a drop in speed across other streets with a 30mph limit.
This could be drivers’ slowing down as they are unsure which streets have the 20mph restrictions or an active decision to slow down as locals get used to the slower speeds.
The fall in average speeds led to an average fatality reduction of 63 percent in a massive safety boost.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says there is evidence to suggest that 20mph zones are an effective way to reduce injuries on the road,
Although there is less experience with 20mph limits, RoSPA says they have been positive in reducing traffic speeds.
Data from the group shows there was just a 1.5 percent chance of being fatally injured if a pedestrian was hit at 20moph compared to a eight percent chance at 30mph.
It is hoped formal legislation can pass through the Senedd by 2021 before the scheme is rolled out in April 2023.
The Task Force reveals the scheme will be enforced through fixed and mobile speed cameras which could be “expanded”.
Rod King MBE, director of the 20s Plenty campaign says the scheme reflected some of the “key values” within Welsh Communities around future generations and active transport.
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