Commencing Monday, January 8, drivers in Wales will face the full implications of the new 20mph speed limit, more than three months after its introduction. The Welsh Government has clarified that the enforcement of the national speed limit will begin this month, putting an end to the confusion surrounding the timeline for implementation.
Initial speculations indicated that enforcement would kick in three months after the speed limit’s introduction, possibly on December 17. However, it has been confirmed that the official commencement date for enforcing the 20mph limit is January 8, signalling a significant change in the approach to road safety.
In the preceding month, the Welsh Government disclosed that GoSafe, the road safety partnership, would initiate the selection of new sites for speed van deployment and other enforcement measures on roads transitioning from 30mph to 20mph. With the planning phase now concluded, GoSafe teams are set to hit the roads this month.
A spokesperson from the Welsh Government explained, “Following the introduction of the new default 20mph speed limit in September 2023, there was an initial bedding-in period to allow for people to adapt to the change. At the beginning of November 2023, GoSafe recommenced enforcing the speed limit in areas where 20mph had been in place before September 2023. From January 2024, GoSafe will initiate the enforcement of the new default 20mph speed limit as it implements Operation Ugain across Wales.”
During the restart of enforcement in November, GoSafe recorded a total of 95 offenses on existing 20mph roads. The average speed offense was 28.3mph, with the highest recorded speed being 37mph. Operation Ugain, a collaborative effort involving GoSafe, Welsh police forces, local authorities, community speed watch groups, and fire and rescue services, aims to rigorously enforce the new speed limit across the network.
At new 20mph sites, motorists caught speeding by a mobile camera will undergo a risk assessment. High-risk cases will lead to enforcement, while lower-risk instances will involve roadside engagement. If caught by a fixed camera, the local authority will assess the violation.
GoSafe detailed the roadside engagement process: “Roadside engagement will be delivered using ‘Operation Ugain.’ These operations use speed monitoring equipment to identify vehicles traveling over the speed limit, before halting the vehicle and presenting the driver with a choice between a fine and points or roadside engagement. The most dangerous drivers will not be eligible and will face prosecution.”
As the enforcement takes effect, drivers are urged to remain vigilant and adhere to the new speed limits. The transition to 20mph is a strategic move by the Welsh Government to enhance road safety and reduce the severity of accidents. Motorists are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the updated regulations to avoid penalties and contribute to a safer road environment for all.