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New 20mph limit may save £100m a year, report says

Published on 2023-06-03 09:41:32 source:NBC News

Reducing the default speed limit to 20mph in Wales could save £100m in the first year, a report has claimed.

The estimated saving would be a result of fewer expected fatalities, injuries and medical treatment.

The Welsh government estimated it would spend £32m on the change, to be introduced on 17 September 2023.

Welsh government minister 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".

The research was conducted by Edinburgh Napier University's Transport Research Institute in conjunction with Welsh government body Public Health Wales.

The report estimates that in the first year under the 20mph 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.

A public attitudes survey, conducted on behalf of the Welsh government by Beaufort Research, found that about two-thirds of people would support the 20mph limit where they lived.

Mr Waters, the deputy minister for climate change, added: "This 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.

"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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