Enforcement of 20mph default speed limit to begin today
Drivers breaking Wales’ 20mph law could face fines and points on their licence as enforcement of the new default speed limit begins today.
In September, Wales became the first UK nation to roll out a 20mph default speed limit.
It saw most roads that were 30mph switch to 20mph – although councils have discretion to impose exemptions.
Initially drivers breaking the limit were offered roadside engagement sessions with the fire and rescue services as an alternative to prosecution.
Following this three month grace period, the Welsh Government has confirmed that enforcement of the road regulation will being on Monday (January 8).
The enforcement – know as Operation Ugain – will see roadside teams using speed monitoring equipment to catch offending motorists.
People who are pulled over doing more than 20mph in a built-up area could face a minimum fine of £100 and three penalty points – or an engagement session.
However, the most dangerous drivers will not be eligible for an engagement session and will be prosecuted.
The controversial default speed limit has been met with fierce opposition in Wales and a petition calling for it to be reversed has reached over 467,000 signatures – the most in Senedd history.
The Welsh Conservatives have heavily opposed the change due to its cost and the party has promised voters that if they were ever in power in Wales, they would axe it.
Natasha Asghar MS, Shadow Minister for Transport, said: “This month, an idea which should have remained as a footnote within the Labour Party’s manifesto and has been questioned, condemned, and refuted by hundreds of thousands of people across the country will be implemented with the full force of the law in Wales.
“Labour and Plaid’s blanket 20mph speed limit is not only vastly unpopular, it is also slowing our country down and damaging our economy.
“The Welsh Conservatives would scrap this policy and save the Welsh economy billions of pounds.”
In September Plaid Cymru won a Senedd amendment vote calling for a review of the 20mph speed limit.
The Welsh Government has said they will commit to such a review a year after the limit is rolled out.
Labour leadership candidates Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles have both said they too would commit to a review with Mr Miles saying he would bring a review forward by six months.
Welsh Government sources told Nation.Cymru any review would not result in the 20mph being scrapped.
Plaid Cymru Leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth said: “Four months have passed since Plaid Cymru tabled a Senedd amendment, and won the vote, gaining a commitment from Welsh Government to review the impact of new limits, empower local authorities to make further exemptions.
“The new limits are now being enforced – and we’re still waiting on a review.
“Plaid Cymru has consistently supported the principle of widespread 20mph zones, but we’ve also made it clear that there are some places where the new limit doesn’t feel reasonable, and it’s important that communities are empowered to see those limits reviewed. It must be an ongoing process.
“We’re seeing no sign of how Welsh Government is implementing the review in line with this clear Senedd vote. We need to see this happening. It’s about building public trust.
“We know the Conservatives are determined to play political games with this, despite the original Wales-wide 20mph proposal having been made by a Conservative MS.
“But whilst they voted against this review, Plaid Cymru will continue to make the case for effective and reasonable implementation of this road safety policy.”
Rod King, Founder and Campaign Director of 20’s Plenty for Us said: “It is entirely appropriate that GoSafe Wales should now be enforcing the Welsh national 20mph default limit for residential and urban areas.
“In doing so they are taking a proportional approach which takes account of a settling in period since September.
“The collaboration between police and other agencies, such as Fire Services, is an innovative and progressive, enabling non-compliers to understand the cumulative effect of speeding on communities as well as the increase in danger when a road incident turns into a crash and impacts the severity of casualties because the speed of those involved prevented a crash being avoided.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Following the introduction of the new default 20mph speed limit in September 2023, there was an initial bedding in period to give people time to adapt to the change.
“At the start of November 2023, GoSafe restarted enforcing the speed limit in areas where 20mph had been in place before September 2023. From January 2024, Go Safe will begin enforcing the new default 20mph speed limit as it rolls out Operation Ugain across Wales.”
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