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Welsh Tory leader claims new 20mph speed limit could increase risks for road users

16 Sep 2023 4 minute read
Andrew RT Davies

The leader of the Welsh Conservatives claims the new default 20mph limit being introduced in Wales from tomorrow could make roads less safe.

Andrew RT Davies made the comments in a column for the Daily Mail, in the aftermath of the Tories failure to derail the introduction of the new speed limit in the Senedd on Wednesday.

Describing the change as a “mad scheme” Mr Davies also accused the Welsh Government of having “disdain for democracy” and claimed, “dogma has triumphed over common sense”.

“The practical interests of the public and businesses mean little as they are sacrificed on the altar of radical ideology by Left-wing, virtue-signalling politicians,” he said.

Mr Davies, who had previously backed the 20’s Plenty group which campaigns for a reduction in the speed limit, added: “In effect, my nation is being used as a testing ground for an eccentric liberal experiment. Will it be justified in terms of lives saved, pollution reduced or worthwhile costs, I have my doubts.”

“The key justification for this move is to improve road safety and lower the number of casualties from traffic accidents.

“According to the 20mph advocates, the lower a car’s speed, the better the chances of survival for a pedestrian who has been hit. It seems straightforward but, perversely, the new law could increase risks in a host of different ways.

“The new limit could lead to more frustration, tail-gating and overtaking. Similarly, the police have warned that response times by emergency vehicles might be reduced. And the removal of now redundant 20mph signs outside schools could actually lead to more speeding in such areas.

“On a deeper level, the sheer scale of this blanket change will undermine the integrity of the legal system because so many motorists will be caught out. A nation that criminalises a large portion of its own population through some arbitrary new policy is helping to destroy respect for the law.”

Defending the scheme earlier this week, the First Minister said cutting speed from 30mph to 20mph would protect lives and claimed it would save the NHS in Wales £92 million a year.

A recent public health study cited by the Welsh Government suggests that the 20mph default speed limit could result in 40% fewer collisions per year, saving 6 to 10 and 1200 to 2000 casualties.

From tomorrow Wales will follow the example of Spain, which made a similar change in 2019, and has since reported a fall in urban road deaths.

Manifesto commitment

“This is a manifesto commitment of the Labour Party, and it was in our election manifesto,” Mr Drakeford said.

“Politicians are very often criticised for not keeping their promises and this is a promise that we will be keeping here in Wales.

“We will invest around £32 million in one-off expenditure and that one-off money will save £92 million every single year in the NHS.

“We will be paid back many, many times over for the investment that we are making.

“I’m reinforced in my belief that it is the right thing to do from the experience we see elsewhere in the world.

“Spain, which has had this policy in place over recent years, have seen a 20% reduction in urban deaths on the roads.”

“While I understand that all change is challenging, I’m also confident that once it’s there and people get used to it, people will find the advantages of it,” he said.

“Just as other changes in the field of road transport – the breathalyser, seatbelt wearing, other speed limits controversial in that time – are completely accepted now.

“Wales has often led the way in progressive policies. We are used to them being controversial at the time that we introduced them.

“When we changed the law in relation to organ donation, no other part of the UK was willing to do the same thing. Now every part of the UK does so.

“I’m reconciled to a period of turbulence when you make a change but I also confident that once the policy is operating people will see that it is a sensible and progressive thing to do.

“It will prevent accidents, it will save lives, and it will be absolutely worth doing.”


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Mawkernewek
6 months ago

“response times by emergency vehicles might be reduced” – surely that’s a good thing?

In any case, responding to an emergency they can put on the blue lights and sirens and exceed the limit.

CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

Because we have an old road system, pinch points due to traffic lights, roundabouts and narrow streets may have more traffic due to 20mph limits making them slower to clear. More traffic, slower response times. Right now, though, it’s all just conjecture. If such outcomes become clear in the next few years, will you admit fault and change your mind? I certainly will if all turns out to be OK. I oppose these measures, but really do hope I’m wrong and everything is OK in the end. I do, however, worry about the precedent this sets – deeply unpopular measures… Read more »

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
6 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

Hi, CJPh. I would agree that “deeply unpopular measures rolled out by a party with 100 years of majority votes based on the urging of their lobbyist friends. Not great.” I can only presume that you must mean the Tory Party trashing our Human Rights, right to protest, etc.

CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

And wharrrrabou’ Trump, AIMIRIIIIIIGHT?

Duw, peter. Try contending with a point I make just once instead of doing your best bot impression.

Jeff
Jeff
6 months ago

Ah, he is advocating poor driving then above peoples lives. If he is unable to control a vehicle at the posted speed then he needs to have his licence removed.
I await to see how this turns turns out. A fence sitter leaning to 20. My biggest gripe so far is the extremely poor info available to where rage limits are new.

CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago

Ugh. “… eccentric liberal experiment”. If you’re so worried about “my country”, RT, then stop using such reductive Americanisms. You’re a Conservative in Britain, that makes you a Liberal. Unless you want an absolute monarchy, a dictatorship, or a theocracy? The Welsh Right, populists and the growing numbers of us who find ourselves without a clear option (beyond Plaid because indy) deserve adequate representatives. What a shower.

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
6 months ago
Reply to  CJPh

“You’re a Conservative in Britain, that makes you a Liberal”.

10-15 years ago I would have agreed with you (up to a point) but there is nothing ‘Liberal’ about the Conservative party in its current state.

CJPh
CJPh
6 months ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

Nah, they are. They just suck. As a Liberal myself I can tell you that the term isn’t synonymous with ‘good’ nor ‘left’. When we point to certain authoritarian measures taken by the party, they can be described rightly as ‘illiberal’. But they don’t advocate for anything structural beyond the scope of Liberalism. They’re not very good at it, but still employ a Liberal framework. For now…

BigE
BigE
6 months ago
Reply to  Barry Pandy

Just be careful what you wish for. You might end up with the sweating, goggle-eyed ARTD. Its worth remembering that my father, who was 80 when he died, spent 65 years living under a Tory government. Just think of the progress we’ve made since then, culminating in the Flaxen Saxon, the Scrotum in a Crumpled Suit.

James
James
6 months ago

“The new limit could lead to more frustration, tail-gating and overtaking.”
This is the problem of the individual who thinks the law doesn’t apply to them who also have deeper issues with anger if they can’t deal with slower drivers.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
6 months ago

Mr flip flop. RT is on whichever bandwagon is going faster at the time (no pun intended) and I’d like to remind him not to forget to label as ‘mad schemes’ the very same 20mph rules in his own Tory run Empire, which he demonstrates loyalty to by spouting only in their (o)press. The list of RTs comments espousing the grandest hypocrisy follows. Tory preserves only. He must be looking in a mirror as he speaks them. ‘Mad scheme’ ‘Disdain for democracy’ ‘Dogma has triumphed over common sense’ ‘Radical ideology’ ‘Criminalises a large portion of its’ own population’ ‘My nation’… Read more »

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
6 months ago

Why is Davies making this such an issue, considering only about a third of the roads in Wales will be affected by the 20mph limit? Desperation. He and the rest of the Tories, both in Cardiff Bay and Westminster, are out of ideas. Rather than focusing on ideas to help with the cost of living crisis we all face, the Tories prefer to stoke division and hatred.

Erisian
Erisian
6 months ago

What a cheek. All Tory policy has represented the triumph of dogma over common sense and humanity

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
6 months ago

Andrew RT Davies made the comments in a column for the Daily Mail…

Say no more.

saveenergy
saveenergy
6 months ago

“the example of Spain, which made a similar change in 2019, and has since reported a fall in urban road deaths.” That’s a good example of how to lie with statistics, compare apples with fish & then cherry pick !! Drippy knows how to lie, he’s had years of practice. Spain urban speed went down from 50 to 30 km/hr, that = 31 to 18 mph. Here’s the real data of Spanish road deaths. from … The ETSC Road Safety Performance Index. & the Directorate General for Traffic Madrid. In 2020, the traffic volume on interurban roads decreased by 22%… Read more »

Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
6 months ago
Reply to  saveenergy

Referring to Mark Drakeford as ‘Drippy’ doesn’t make a cogent political argument.

Gerald Simpson
Gerald Simpson
6 months ago
Reply to  saveenergy

What about covid lock down in Spain well that affect the accidents less cars on the rd????

Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago

As the Tory party lurches to the far right, I suppose writing an article for a paper that supported Hitler at the start of WW2 is to be expected.

G Horton-Jones.
G Horton-Jones.
6 months ago

There is no need to remove 20 mph signs from outside school premises nor should any be removed
Once you are inside an ambulance you are in a very good place medically speaking and then are transported to hospital at a pace consistent with your condition

Ian
Ian
6 months ago

RT Should remember. “A picture Never Lies.”. Because he was All for 20mph in A previous photoshoot. ?

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