Vehicle damage claims in Wales fall 20% since speed limit cut to 20mph, says insurer

Vehicle damage claims in Wales have fallen by 20% at one leading car insurer since the nationwide 20mph speed limit was introduced there last September.

Wales was one of the first countries in the world, and the first nation in the UK, to introduce legislation for a default 20mph speed limit in built-up areas last year.

The scheme has since been amended to give people more choice to rescind the limits in some places after half a million people signed a petition against the measure.

The Welsh government said there was “generally universal support” for 20mph zones in areas near schools, built-up areas such as housing estates, and outside hospitals but there were other areas where people felt the measure was not suitable.

However, Rob Clark, head of motor underwriting at esure, said: “We can see a clear drop in vehicle damage claims in Wales since the 20mph speed restriction was introduced in September 2023. During a time when we usually see these claims rise, they dropped and have continued to do so in the first quarter of 2024. The restriction is clearly having an impact.”

There has been fierce opposition to the 20mph plan from the Conservatives in Wales’s Senedd. The Plaid Cymru leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth, has said he supports the principle of widespread 20mph zones but pushed for more local power to review them as he said they had been “implemented very poorly and inconsistently” in some areas.

Early results from sites trialling the scheme in 2022 showed a 3mph reduction in average speeds while data published by Transport for Wales in February this year indicated that speeds had reduced by an average of 4mph on the main roads that were monitored since the national rollout.

The evidence of a drop in accidents comes as the Conservatives promised to introduce a law that would unilaterally limit the use of 20mph routes in Wales and reverse the expansion of London’s Ulez clean air zone, overturning the choices of voters in both regions.

In a pledge that, if implemented, would mark a significant reversal of devolution, the Tories said that if re-elected they would immediately introduce a “backing drivers bill” that would use Westminster powers to quash local say over parts of transport policy.

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Rod King, the founder of the campaign group 20’s Plenty for Us, said the data from esure “confirms on a national scale the benefits from lower speeds not only reducing casualties and danger but also providing a benefit to drivers in reduced insurance claims”.

He added: “The reductions are both statistically significant and timely in showing the reduction in road danger from implementing 20mph limits on a national basis. Statistically, some of those crashes which never happened would have resulted in death or injury for the road users involved. The national 20mph limits has already saved lives and injury.”

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