As a result of a vote in the Welsh Senedd in July 2022, motorists in Wales are now required to maintain a speed of 20mph in built up areas. The change is effective from the 17th September 2023 with Wales being the first UK nation to adopt a 20 mph default speed limit in primarily residential and built up areas.
There has been divided opinions and much criticism as a result of the changes with members of the public saying the changes were anti-driver and too costly. On the other hand, Welsh Ministers and the police are saying the changes will diminish the number of casualties on the road and particularly injuries involving children.
What happens if I exceed the speed limit and get caught?
Fines will not be issued immediately to drivers who exceed the new speed limit, the Welsh Government and police have agreed the implementation is a road safety scheme. This means that in most cases, there will be an engagement approach for drivers who are driving just over the limit. Drivers exceeding the new speed will be provided with educational materials about the changes and the benefits of reducing speed. There is no guidance as to how long this approach will last.
Why the changes
The Welsh Government argue that decreasing speeds will significantly benefit road safety and reduce collisions and injury. Welsh Ministers have also argued that the changes will help communities to be less reliant on driving and the changes will encourage people to choose more active ways to travel. The view is there may be fewer vehicles on the road.
According to the Welsh Government, the evidence is clear that by decreasing speed will save lives, reduce accidents and personal injury, however compliance may be problematic. There is also the matter of congestion with the pilot scheme demonstrating that drivers do not obey the 20mph speed limit which resulted in vehicles much closer to each other than normal, particularly on school runs which increases the likelihood of accidents and road rage. There have also been concerns how the changes will increase journey times for drivers.
For the new law to be successful, drivers need educating about the changes. Without education, we could see a significant increase in speed related offending when the road safety scheme becomes enforceable.
Currently, the minimum penalty for a speeding offence is a £100 fine and three points added to your licence. If you receive 12 or more points within 3 years, you could be disqualified from driving.
Written by Zoey Smith