20mph speed zones urged in Wales to protect children


The Welsh government has provided 20mph zone funding for councils

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More 20mph zones should be introduced on roads in built-up areas to protect pedestrians, and particularly children, say a group of Welsh assembly members.

The Welsh government has provided 20mph zone funding for councils, but does not have the power to change speed limits.

A debate took place in the Senedd chamber on Wednesday.

The zones are a familiar sight outside many schools, but AMs say they could be introduced in other built-up areas or places where children play.

Start Quote

It's not going to add a lot of time to your journey”

End Quote Joyce Watson Labour AM

Ministers have cited the example of the Sandfields estate in Port Talbot where injuries from road accidents fell 48% over three years after a blanket 20mph speed limit was imposed.

Councils were given £11.5m this year to introduce more zones, with ministers saying that slower traffic would make roads safer and encourage people to walk and cycle.

Children aged eight to 11 and those aged 12 to 15 are the two age groups most likely to be killed or seriously injured as pedestrians.

Since 2002, around 1 in 4 of child pedestrian casualties were pupils on their way to or from school.

'Pretty stark figures'

Labour AM Joyce Watson, one of the four backbench AMs tabling the debate, said 20mph zones could be imposed around school gates at peak times when children were likely to be around.

"It's not going to add a lot of time to your journey," she said. "These figures are pretty stark.

"If you have got a play park and they have to cross the road you have to reduce the speed limit. It's common sense."

She said local authorities were taking very different approaches to 20mph zones around the country.

"In Ceredigion County Council, there are only six schools that have an enforced or advised 20mph zone," she said.

"Compare that with Wrexham who have a programme of action over the next three years - all [roads] outside their school gates will have 20mph zones."

Another AM behind the call, Conservative Byron Davies, a classic car enthusiast, said that "pedestrians come first".

Start Quote

I will probably drive less than 20mph especially if the children are all pouring out of the back of their mother's Ranger Rover outside the school gates”

End Quote Zog Ziegler Motoring journalist

"That used to be the message that was in the highway code," he said.

"That seems to have gone and the car seems to be dominant in our world."

Clive Green, a community councillor in Carmarthenshire who has campaigned for road safety, told BBC Radio Wales the speed limit was no use without enforcement.

"The school I've been concerned with is Drefach near Cross Hands and it's on a dangerous bend," he said.

"It's only recently that the 20mph speed limit has been introduced there.

"I'm sorry to say after talking to parents and talking to school crossing officers, it's still being ignored because there's no enforcement."

Motoring journalist Zog Ziegler said every child killed or injured was, of course, a tragedy but he did not see the need for 20mph zones all around cities.

"I think 99% of us, when we drive past a school, I will probably drive less than 20mph especially if the children are all pouring out of the back of their mother's Ranger Rover outside the school gates," he said.

"I will slow right down, I will even stop to make sure they cross the road safely. Nobody wants that on their conscience.

"I don't think we need to have pan-city 20mph limits."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Some people seem to believe that a few seconds of their life is worth more than a whole lifetime of a child. Shame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    58. J Salisbury
    It is always the fault of the driver if they hit a child.

    What absolute nonsense. No driver goes out looking for a child to mow down, but there can be instances where despite all best efforts things happen. That's why it's called an accident. It's my experience that kids are far more gung-ho in traffic these days, so maybe more spent on education would be the best move.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    No-one with any common sense could argue against the idea that lowering speed limits around places like schools and hospitals is the right thing to do.
    -Entirely agree but just watch the petrol heads do just that!

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    5 Minutes ago
    German expressways?

    And how is that example remotely helpful to the debate about pedestrian safety in built-up areas?

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    ..Getting drivers to park properly, use mirrors and indicators, and use roundabouts properly would be a bonus too.

    Quite right, it makes one wonder why these things are not being tested when one has a driving test. Surely it is common sense to follow these rules and as suggested by someone earlier, utilise some of the unemployed as traffic police to enforce existing laws.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Reducing the speed limit is not the only thing required- my brother and sister can't walk to school because there isn't a way to get across the main road. There is a lollipop lady further up, but they'd have to walk along the road to get to school. Sometimes the only way to get across is to run when you see a gap in the cars.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Introduce variable limits around schools like in the USA, where a lower limit applies during school times. Limits are needed when kids arrive and leave, so being generous that's 2 hours per day, 5 days a week, 39 weeks a year. That's less than 4.5% of the time when it's needed yet we're trying to enforce blanket limits. It's no wonder most drivers ignore them - they never see the kids present.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    50. Tonester_7
    "Often it is not the fault of the driver if a kid wanders out in front of them"

    It is always the fault of the driver if they hit a child. The driver is in control of a powerful and deadly piece of machinery, the child is a child. The responsibility rests with the driver, whether you like it or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    In addition, all roads too narrow to have a white line down the middle should have a mandatory 40 mph maximum speed limit - perhaps even 30 mph. Country lanes are lethal because drivers race along them at top speed but because the roads are twisty, pedestrians, horses and cyclists as well as oncoming cars are hidden from view until the last minute

    Lower speeds might also help wildlife

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    48. FedUp With PC

    German expressways?

    I think a suggested level is good enough, if you get in an accident and break the suggested level, you go to jail. other than that, just do whatever you want.
    I'd like gov to get off my back before they insert a chip in my head to check if i had my 5 a day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    The right of children not get killed or be seriously maimed seriously OUTWEIGHS the right of men with small manhoods to use their car, and/or their driving of it therein, as an extension to said tenny weeny manhood.....

    ...you are not in that much of a hurry.....

    ....and if you are that is not the fault of child you kill/maim.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    What about teaching children how to use roads safely? Today I saw some teenage girls chatting on a pavement. One glared at me and stepped onto the road - daring me to do anything about it. She was so intent on giving me attitude she never looked the other way. Had there been anything coming the other way she would have been hit. Speed bumps don't cure stupidity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    e.g. if there are children or other people walking or cycling in or near the road, slow down to a safe speed and give them space".

    Wrong. Children shouldn't be in the road in the first place. Parents should give some consideration to the whereabouts of their kids, instead of texting on iPhones, watching football on Sky or drinking lager in pubs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    1.Dandalf - "in line with the limit for unregistered vehicles low powered electric scooters"

    Thanks for reminding me, its high-time bicycles and mobility scooters were registered, with number plates and riders of them had to pass a test. Tired of them thinking no laws apply to them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.


    The number of deaths is indeed relatively small. I think Radio 4's More or Less did a piece about these statistics last year.

    However, how many avoidable child deaths do you consider acceptable to save a little incovenience to motorists? 2? 3?

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    I think most people observe speed limits & are careful particularly around schools, no need for further restrictions. Often it is not the fault of the driver if a kid wanders out in front of them. Schools, parents & kids must take responsibility. I say no to 20mph. Some of us have to get from A - B, we already have conjestion in most cities, slowing is further is counter productive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Fine but make sure there is a policeman/traffic warden outside every school and fine all the parents who cause utter chaos by parking illegally when doing the school run.

    One of our local primaries is on a main road, parents park on double yellows, crossing zig-zags, next to the traffic island, double parked, you name it. But it's the other drivers that are the problem?

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    1 Hour ago
    Some countries have no speed limit.
    They are posting 20 miles limit.
    Nanny state has no end and people are going to become even less responsible for their own actions
    Which particular countries have no limit?

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    There are quite a few 20mph zones in Crewe already - unfortunately the roads are so neglected and badly maintained that it isn't safe to drive that fast anyway!


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