Welsh drivers don’t need a speed limit of 20mph – they already drive too slowly

A vandalised 20mph sign in Cardiff
A vandalised 20mph sign in Cardiff - Getty

Staying in West Wales over the weekend, I was able to observe dopey Druid Drakeford’s new 20mph speed limit in action. Or, rather, inaction; traffic in many places was somewhere between a crawl and a standstill. A video on TikTok showing the driver of a mobility scooter gleefully overtaking a long line of cars has gone viral.

Everybody I spoke to agreed that the slower speed was worthwhile in some areas – outside schools, hospitals, parades of shops – but everywhere else it was “crackers”. Wales, as the sharp-eyed among you may have noticed, is full of these things called “hills”. Lorries are struggling to get up those steep inclines at a low speed. The idea that cars and trucks in a lower gear will create fewer emissions is nonsense; the opposite is true.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been spent on new signage, but locals complain that the signs are either inadequate or in the wrong place. It’s often unclear where the 20mph zone on formerly 30mph main roads begins and ends. The Welsh government claims the blanket 20mph speed limit will result in 40 per cent fewer road collisions. Not with confused people constantly looking down to check their speedometer, it won’t!

Unintended consequences are becoming apparent. One driving instructor has had to increase the duration of lessons because students can’t cover the ground they need to at 20mph. Fees have risen accordingly.

It’s fair to say the new speed limit hasn’t been received well
It’s fair to say the new speed limit hasn’t been received well - Getty

A friend’s wife has to have carers come in twice a day. Typically, their shift is 12 hours with breaks. “They now spend at least another hour a day travelling, because of the 20mph limit. Not only do they not get paid for the extra time – and their wages are derisory – but it’s potentially dangerous, as they are getting even more tired, not just because of the extra time, but because they need to watch their speedometers at the cost of paying attention to the traffic.”

Oh, well, kill a carer, save the planet, eh? Net zero is, at root, a deeply misanthropic creed. People’s lives, their fuel bills, don’t matter. All must be sacrificed on the altar of the eco-god.

A petition calling on the Welsh government to rescind and remove the disastrous 20mph law has garnered an astonishing 433,000 signatures – well over 25 per cent of the Welsh vote at the 2019 general election. They’d better hurry up. Tempers are fraying. People who have places to get to – like, you know, jobs – are up in arms.

Dean the Taxi, a lovely bloke who drove me from Carmarthen station to Tenby (no sign of the promised replacement bus), pointed out a problem I hadn’t even considered. “Round here, people like to drive under the speed limit. So, now the limit is 20mph, they’re driving at 15mph. FIFTEEN! Crazy. There’s a big backlash. It’s all net zero blah-blah with them s—s up in Cardiff, but we’re the ones living with it. It’s impossible to drive that slow.”

The only positive to come out of Dripford’s dismal, disastrous 20mph experiment is that it gives us a vivid preview of Labour’s green totalitarianism. Its exponents don’t care, but voters might well, I suspect. Pony and trap to Haverfordwest, anyone?

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