Welsh Government begins full enforcement of 20mph speed limit

Here at Hutchinson Thomas Solicitors, we strive to keep you informed about important legal developments that may impact your daily lives. With that in mind, in this article, we bring you updates on the enforcement of the 20mph speed limits across Wales and the subsequent insights into regional variances provided by the Welsh Government.

As of January 8, 2024, the Welsh Government has commenced full enforcement of the 20mph speed limits introduced across Wales in September 2023. The enforcement phase, known as ‘Operation Ugain,’ follows a three-month grace period and marks a shift from the initial ‘bedding-in period.’

Wales, being the first UK nation to decrease the default speed limit to 20mph, has taken an ‘education-focused’ approach towards the enforcement of this new limit. Offending motorists will now face roadside teams offering a choice between a fine and points or roadside engagement.

The Welsh Government emphasises that this reduction in speed limits is aimed at creating a safer and greener living environment. However, there are opposing views on the cost-benefit analysis of the scheme, with some arguing that the costs outweigh the benefits.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government stated: “From January 2024, Go Safe will begin enforcing the new default 20mph speed limit as it rolls out Operation Ugain across Wales.”

Deputy Climate Change Minister, Lee Waters, a key figure in the implementation of the new speed limit, has issued updates on the differences observed across Welsh councils regarding the 20mph limit. Nearly four months since the implementation, Mr. Waters emphasised the need for a “common sense approach” in determining whether a road should remain at 20mph or revert to the previous 30mph limit.

In response to the concerns raised by drivers, including protests and a petition with almost half a million signatures, Mr. Waters provided insights into the planned review of the 20mph limit and potential changes that might be considered. Notably, the minister highlighted significant differences among local authorities in utilising exceptions, allowing certain roads to be exempt from the 20mph limit and retain a 30mph limit.

For example, in Swansea and Bridgend, 10% of roads have maintained a 30mph limit, while in some areas of North Wales, this percentage is less than 1%. As the review into the limit begins, councils are tasked with deciding the appropriate speed limit for specific roads, reflecting the nuanced approach the Welsh Government is adopting in response to local contexts.

We understand that these changes may impact our clients differently based on their locations and travel routes. If you have any legal concerns or questions related to the enforcement of 20mph limits or the regional variances, please feel free to reach out to us. As always, we are here to provide you with expert legal guidance.

For enquiries and advice on a wide range of legal matters, contact Darren Davies on 01792 439000 or email  darren.davies@hutchinsonthomas.com