Drivers are being warned not to rely on their satellite navigation systems when a general 20mph zone on residential roads in Wales comes into force.
Most roads currently running at 30mph will increase to 20mph from Sunday under Welsh Labor leader Mark Drakeford’s policy, one of the first such measures in the world and a first for the UK.
The Welsh Government is spending £32.5 million on the rollout, but its own report shows it could “result in a substantial economic disadvantage” of £6.5 billion in lost productivity and travel time over the Next 30 years.
Minister Penny Mordaunt called it “absolutely insane” but Mr Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, insisted “the evidence is irrefutable” and continues to push forward.
Now motorists in Wales have been warned they risk facing penalties if they rely on their satellite navigation system, which could still mistakenly display 30mph speed limits next week .
Simon Williams, head of policy at the RAC, said: “It is vitally important that drivers are fully aware of the arrival of the 20mph limit in Wales and pay full attention to all road signs.
“And, until satellite navigation systems have been fully updated, they should not rely on them to know the speed limit on a particular stretch of Welsh road.”
Mr Williams said enforcement of 20mph limits is “pretty poor” and it would be “more effective to target areas where they are most needed”, such as on residential roads or in high-traffic areas .
He added: “While compliance with the new 20mph limits is poor, this should lead to an overall reduction in speeds, which will have a positive effect on road safety. »
“4 mph speed limits next?
While Welsh Government documents relating to this policy state that “new and amended road signs will be required for the revised speed limits to be enforceable”, some councils are already removing signs and road markings because the public lighting in residential areas will become the new main indicator of the policy. a speed limit of 20 mph.
There have been reports of damage to new signs in areas including Conwy, Gwynedd, Newport, Torfaen, Wrexham and Flintshire.
The reaction is growing, with Conservative MP Craig MacKinlay claiming that the project was “dressed in the trinity of safety, environmental issues and the promotion of public transport”, but that the cars would “consume up to 15 to 20% more fuel to driving at 20 mph” and many parts of Wales suffer from other unreliable transport options.
He said, “What’s next?” Are we going to go the route of having someone with a red flag in front of a car that was imposed 100 years ago (limiting cars to a maximum of 6 mph) when cars were first invented times ? Maybe it will be next year under Labor.
“This is an attempt to be anti-car, to infantalize and criminalize most of us. I have a lot of friends who had exemplary driving records and, as this was rolled out in London, they ended up with fines – it’s a speed awareness course, £100, then three points and another £100 fine and everything else. »
Mr Drakeford claimed the rollout would save the NHS £92m a year, but his own analysis shows the economic benefits by 2052 are estimated at £1.4bn – less than a quarter of the £6.4 billion price tag.
As the backlash grew, he told BBC Breakfast: “I anticipate there will be several weeks while people get used to a change like this. This is a major change. It will take time for him to get used to it.
But he warned that for “people who blatantly and deliberately are not prepared to obey the rules that everyone else will follow, that will be a different matter.”