New driving law will see ‘new kinds of problems arise’ as default speed limits slashed
UK motorways: Highways England warns drivers of speed limits
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From next September, speed limits in built-up areas will be reduced from 30mph to 20mph, as Wales will become the first nation to implement the changes. Ministers argued that the rules would lower the number of road collisions and noise levels, as well as encourage more people to walk or cycle.
The ruling was backed by Labour and Plaid Cymru, but the Welsh Conservatives slammed the plans, calling them “ludicrous”.
Many UK towns and cities have 20mph limits on residential roads but Wales will become the first UK nation to have them as the default on all restricted roads.
Graham Conway, Managing Director at Select Car Leasing, analysed whether the introduction of 20mph speed limiters would be beneficial.
He said: “Since safety is always the number one priority on the roads, we would encourage drivers to welcome this new rule change.
“Measures being put in place to make roads safer are never a bad thing.
“20mph zones certainly reduce the likelihood of accidents on the road, and in the event that accidents do occur, reduces the chances of serious injuries.”
Some travel groups have claimed that Wales would become the world’s first nation to adopt a national 20mph speed limit.
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.
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Pilot schemes were launched in March in Port Talbot and Cardiff to test how well the changes would work in real conditions.
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.
Mr Conway added: “However, it is important to note that speed limit reductions do not eliminate all kinds of danger, in fact, new kinds of problems can arise when traffic is going slow.
“One thing we would expect to see an increase in is incidents of tailgating.
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“When traffic is slow, some motorists will act impatiently and drive too close to the vehicle in front of them, in an attempt to gain ground.
“This can be very dangerous because when there is not a safe distance kept between vehicles, the chances of a collision increase significantly.
“Should something happen that causes the vehicle to brake suddenly, you might not have enough time to stop your vehicle if you are not keeping a safe distance.
“We would urge local police services in Wales to be as strict as possible with dangerous tailgating actions, as they are imposing the speed limit”.
Drivers should always aim to keep a two to three-second brake distance between themselves and the vehicle directly in front of them.
It is estimated that it will cost £33million to introduce the 20mph speed limits in Wales.
Despite this, Welsh ministers claim that the national will save £58million over 30 years.
This is because of reduced demand for emergency services and fewer people requiring hospital treatment.
Should the proposals go ahead, the new 20mph speed limit is expected to come into force in September 2023.
Scotland may also follow suit with the 20mph, which could be introduced in 2025.
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