Bringing in a 20mph speed limit across Wales will save £100m claims report

Introducing 20mph as a default speed limit across Wales instead of 30mph could save as much as £100m in the first year, a new report has claimed. The savings would come from less medical treatment needed because of fewer crashes.

The Welsh Government plans to limit residential roads and busy pedestrian streets to 20mph from next year following a vote in the Senedd in changes that will cost around £32m. More details of that vote here.

They say it will reduce the risk and severity of injuries as a result of collisions between vehicles and vulnerable road users; encourage more people to cycle and walk; make Wales more attractive for our communities and bring physical and mental health benefits.

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Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters said the evidence was “very clear” that reducing speed limits saved lives, but Welsh Conservatives accused Labour ministers of imposing “dogmatic and restrictive measures”.

Now, new research by Edinburgh Napier University’s Transport Research Institute in conjunction with Public Health Wales has estimated that in the first year under the new limit, 19 fewer people will be killed, 213 fewer seriously injured and 1,275 fewer will be slightly injured on roads. It found the reduction in deaths alone could save about £37m in the first year.

However, the report claims that the cost savings alone are a “gross over-simplification and underrepresentation” of the health benefits of the lower speed limit. It added that studies have shown a 20mph limit encourages more walking and cycling, therefore improving physical and mental health.

Mr Waters said the new research shows the savings in terms of reductions in people being hurt or killed but the benefits of 20mph stretch much further than casualty savings alone.

He added: “The report suggests the lower speed limit will help encourage physical activity and in turn reduce obesity, stress and anxiety. As with any change we know it will take time for people to adapt. But I’m pleased to see the early indications show a majority of people are in favour of 20mph.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Asghar MS said 20mph limits should be decided by councils, and should be used for roads near schools and playgrounds.

“Labour ministers need to stop imposing dogmatic and restrictive measures on road users in Wales and focus on making sure Wales has a public transport system fit for the 21st century,” she added.

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