Wales’ 20mph Limit Aims to Foster Safer Communities in 10 Days

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Ten days remain before the implementation of Wales’ new 20mph speed limit on residential roads, and the nation’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford, firmly believes that the speed reduction will save lives. Ahead of his visit to the community of St Brides Major in Vale of Glamorgan, Drakeford expressed the indubitable evidence pointing to the correlation between reduced speed limits and decreased road accidents.

Despite dissent from critics who prefer stricter enforcement of the pre-existing 30mph limit, Drakeford reiterates his commitment to fostering ‘safer communities.’ St Brides Major has been experimenting with the 20mph limit for over two years and will serve as an insightful case study for the minister. Mr. Drakeford will meet with companies, families, and children in the area on the upcoming Thursday.

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Wales joins Spain in this initiative, replicating its amendment of speed limits to 30kmh which resulted in fewer urban road deaths. All roads in Wales currently observing a 30mph (50km/h) speed limit will be modified to 20mph (32kmh), with councils having the discretion to implement exemptions, and several have done accordingly.

In conjunction with the increased safety, Drakeford points to the additional benefits the reduced speed limit would generate, such as quieter surroundings, less noise pollution, and encouraging a more active outdoor lifestyle for the community. He firmly believes that these measures will save lives.

St Brides Major has been a 20mph trial zone since July 2021, following a local campaign. The main village thoroughfare is a well-frequented route for drivers heading to the beaches at Ogmore and Southerndown, and further into the Vale. An interim monitoring report by Transport for Wales demonstrated a reduction in average speed by 3mph during the trial, with speed cameras further reducing speeds temporarily.

This sentiment of change,’ however, is met with conflicting opinions. Stephen Fisher, a former traffic officer and a local resident, feels that this initiative is a political tactic he staunchly disagrees with. He likens this shift in social acceptance of speeding to the transformation in public opinion regarding drunk driving some 30 to 50 years prior. While he appreciates the idea of a speed camera, he prefers it to operate under the older 30mph speed limit.

Some echo Fisher’s sentiments, while others wholeheartedly support the lowered speed limit. Critics argue that the scheme, costing roughly £30m, should be targeted to potentially hazardous areas such as schools and hospitals, instead of being enforced ubiquitously, to avoid an increase in journey durations over the next 30 years.

However, the law stands. Rachel Thompson, an employee at a local coffee house, encapsulated the anticipation and skepticism, with concerns about the implementation of this speed limit change and the potential confusion it might trigger on the busier roads of the town. For Catherine Goodman, working at a local Delicatessen, striking a balance between safety and efficiency will be a challenge. As the clock ticks down towards the enforcement of the new regulation, the expectation and apprehension are palpable. But as the saying goes, only time will tell.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.