Is There A War Against Motorists In 2024?

Many speed limits have been reduced to 20 MPH in Wales - will the UK follow? As a private number plate supplier, we're looking into the war on motorists.
26/01/2024 Blog
A mirrored image of a car. The image also has a 20 MPH sign, a camera, and a ULEZ sign.

Wales changed speed limits in built-up areas from 30 MPH to 20 MPH about 4 months ago. The 10MPH difference might not seem like much, but it has already had quite an impact. In this article we’ve examined the response to this issue, as well as other issues that are irritating motorists across the UK.

Will the 20MPH Speed Limit in built-up areas be enforced UK wide?

The introduction of this speed limit in Wales, combined with the other restrictions on motorists, has led to worries that this limit will be introduced everywhere in the UK.

The stance of the Welsh Government on this issue is as follows:

There are 20 MPH speed limits in many cities in England. There are plans to introduce 20 MPH across Cornwall and in Scotland and more rural authorities are introducing larger scale extended 20 MPH programmes, and it has announced that it plans for 20 MPH to become the norm in built-up areas.

Given Wales’ initial response to the speed limit change was so negative, it’s been suggested that other UK countries won’t want to follow suit. However, as time has gone on, articles and comments on this problem have decreased. Since the major complaints about this change in Wales have somewhat faded over the last couple of months, then the potential backlash may not dissuade other UK governments from implementing this speed limit change.

If safety actually improves, if this is implemented UK wide, then people may even be pleased about the change. According to the BBC “The Labour-run Welsh government predicts the change will save up to 100 lives and 20,000 casualties in the first decade.”

However, recent news suggests that England will not be following along any time soon.

Rishi Sunak has declared his intention to end the war on motorists by limiting several road safety and environment-driven restrictions. More specifically, he said, “What we want to do now is make sure that all these hare-brained schemes that are forced on local communities, whether it’s Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, blanket 20MPH speed limits, all of that… need to stop.”

Clearly, this is a slight at the Welsh scheme, so it seems that any attempts to install this initiative in England will not receive Sunak’s support. Some Welsh people are also hopeful that it will eventually be changed back to 30 MPH in Wales, too.

The (Mostly Negative) Response

In online comment sections and daily conversations, the immediate response suggested that this speed limit change was unwanted. Concerns included:

  • The change may impact tourism
  • People may not obey the limit.
  • More fuel may be used changing gears

At the four month period, these additional concerns are amongst the most frequently mentioned:

  • Essential Bus services have been being axed in rural areas due to time constraints caused by slower driving.
  • Emergency service workers e.g. lifeboat and fire personnel have been unable to react to call outs as quickly as they can’t quickly get to their stations.
  • Cyclists being impossible to overtake legally has made cycling more dangerous.
  • Concerns that drivers are spending more time with their eyes on their speed rather than on the road.

If we see an expansion of this policy in the near future, we can only hope that these concerns will be addressed.

A More Positive Outlook

Why was the limit even introduced, if people were so upset?

Even though initial complaints far outnumbered positive comments, this could be an example of bias, where people are more likely to complain than to speak out in favour of something like this. Or, it might just genuinely be that many don’t feel this change is a good use of time or money.

Petitions, Polls and Public Opinions

The Senedd (Welsh Parliament) allows online petitions, and when any reach 250+ signatures, the Petitions Committee will discuss the proposed issue. Before the speed limit change was implemented there were numerous petitions to try and stop it, which were rejected. Over 465,000 people have now signed the petition to have the new 20 MPH law rescinded.

Another relevant poll was conducted over on Facebook, and is quite telling about the opinions of UK people in general.

Martin Lewis (commonly known as Martin’s Money Tips) put out a poll asking his audience for their opinions. He asked both drivers and non-drivers whether 20 MPH should be the new default limit throughout the UK. “Motorists made up the majority of survey respondents [90.1%]. Of that number, over a quarter [26.8%] backed the 20 MPH as default but the resounding majority [63.3%] thought the rest of the UK shouldn’t follow Wales’ lead.”

A screenshot of Martin Money Tips' twitter poll.

Different polls show differing opinions. Redford and Wilton’s poll implied originally that 46% of people supported the change, later falling to only 29%, whereas the Welsh government’s public attitude poll from 2020 suggested 80% of people were in support of the speed limit change.

This huge variety in results could be due to biassed polls, or may be representative of a conflicted public. Or, it may be that people were for the change in theory, but have more recently turned against it after experiencing it.

ULEZ and Clean Air Zones

The recent addition of Clean Air Zones throughout the UK is considered an attack on motorists, much like the 20 MPH limit. Both of these issues have this in common: They claim to have been put in place to help people, and the environment, but both schemes are still widely hated.

In the case of ULEZ and other clean air zones, many fines are issued for cars that do not meet the standards. However, people sometimes receive fines that they haven’t earned, due to number plate cloning.

People will sometimes steal registrations to use when committing crimes, and any fines that those criminals earn will then be passed on to the actual owner of the registration. This can motivate further number plate cloning and be a significant inconvenience for the victims.

Like the 20 MPH limit, people are worried that this will spread, and there will soon be even more clean air zones in the UK. If you drive through clean air zones/ ULEZ then consider checking out our ULEZ page, where we have gathered relevant information.

There are sometimes system delays that cause fines for people who have recently changed their plate, even if the vehicle is ULEZ compliant. Our ULEZ page contains a free email template and advice to help you appeal, so that you can enjoy your private plate without worry.

Number Plate Cloning On The Rise

Number plate cloning, a prevalent issue that is impacting motorists throughout the country, is on the rise. When a cloned plate is read by a camera, the fine may be sent to a completely innocent driver. You can read our article on number plate cloning here. In summary, while there are companies producing number plates for people without checking entitlement, there is a risk that your vehicle can be cloned. Autotrader has advised that ”personalised number plates have a lesser chance of being cloned due to their distinctiveness” so why not check out our cheap number plates here?

War on Motorists

The speed limit change is considered by some to be the next step towards limiting and worsening the driving experience in the UK. Others insist that this change is a safety measure to improve British roads. This division has been clear over the last few months as people’s opinions and irritation have developed.

With the introduction of more cameras, Clean Air Zones, and lack of action on unscrupulous number plate suppliers throughout the UK, there are serious concerns about the war on motorists. Many drivers appear to fear that more and more restrictions will limit their freedom and take all of the fun out of driving.

What do you think? Let us know on our Facebook post about this article.

Only time will tell if the 20 MPH speed limit is followed and enforced - and if it actually saves lives.

In the meantime, motorists - consider cheering yourself up with a private number plate! Our Smart Search Tool for finding private plates makes browsing plates easy - and pretty fun. Type in anything, to find a plate that suits you.

Or, maybe you want a plate to suit someone else? They make great gifts, and we have gift options to make this process as smooth as possible. Our 4Gifts Hub can help you!

If you run a business, or drive a company vehicle, check out our 4Business Hub to learn more about business plates.