DRIVING INSTRUCTORS believe that the 20mph speed limits have had very little, if any, effect on slowing drivers down in North Wales.

In September 2023, the majority of residential roads throughout Wales changed from being 30mph to 20mph.

In February 2022, Buckley - and surrounding areas like Bryn-Y-Baal and Mynydd Isa - were one of eight other areas across Wales selected for a Welsh Government trial which reduced speed limits from 30mph to 20mph on residential roads.

What started off as a 'pilot' scheme eventually became a permanent fixture in September 2023 as the Welsh Government deemed the trials a success and the majority of residential roads in Wales changed from being 30mph to 20mph.

Then, on July 12 2022, Senedd members voted 39 to 15 to approve the Welsh Government's bid to roll out the law on all residential roads.

That was despite major backlash from residents of Buckley and beyond, with over 460,000 people signing a national petition asking for a U-turn to be made.

Among those who witnessed how the changes unfolded were north Wales' driving instructors.


During the time of the trial period in Buckley, Carol Flavell - who is from the town - was an instructor.

She is soon due to get back behind the wheel and help budding drivers go on to pass their tests. 

She says that she believes the trial period in Buckley did little to slow drivers down and might have even had the opposite effect.

Speaking to the Leader about the 20mph speed limits, Carol said: "I was instructing during the so-called "trial" and will be going back to instructing again soon. I have lots to say about it, none of it is good.

"The main thing I have noticed, though, is that because people can see no logic to the speed limits on so many of our roads, they have lost all respect for all speed limits, especially 30mph roads, where so many more cars are now travelling up to, and in excess of, 40mph!"

Martin Bannister-Kelly also worked as an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) in the Buckley area during the initial trial period.

He said: "From the driving I've observed in Buckley, and other areas, I can see in most cases it hasn't slowed drivers down, if anything some people are driving faster now.

"What I have seen a lot of is people not even driving at 30mph in those zones either, which is very worrying. There just seems to be an even bigger lack of compliance from drivers now."

Martin, who lives in Wrexham and has been an instructor for nearly eight years, added: "When it comes to being in a car with a learner, we've always seen a level of frustration from other drivers when the L plates go on, but this is even worse now.

"People are taking far more risks when it comes to, for example, overtaking in irresponsible ways and the level of aggression towards learner drivers is certainly higher too."

Martin also highlighted the problem 20mph zones is presenting in terms of helping learner drivers build up their confidence.

He said: "Many new drivers are nervous and build up gradually from simple control of the car to simple junctions on quiet roads to busier roads and more complex junctions. 

"Part of this progression includes getting comfortable with faster speeds.  When pupils first start driving the idea of driving at 20mph is quite daunting and feels fast to them. 

"It takes them time to become comfortable with this, there is then a similar process of becoming more comfortable with 30mph. 

"The changes present a challenge as learner drivers are now expected to go from driving at 20mph to at least 40mph and in some areas this could mean a jump to 50mph."  

Another driving instructor, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "It's not just Buckley, but many other areas, where people just seem to be driving recklessly since this change was made.

"I have certainly had to change the way I teach people to drive now. It's almost like they have to be double as cautious as they were before 20mph was implemented across the country.

"It has without a doubt made it more difficult for me in my profession, but also for those hundreds of thousands of new drivers taking to the road each week."

The Welsh Government has stated that the change from 30mph to 20mph on Wales' residential roads was made in order to 'help save lives'.

New figures also suggest that drivers have dropped their speeds, on average, by 4mph since the introduction of the 20mph speed limits in Wales.

Transport for Wales (TfW) data released this month revealed how the average speed of drivers has dropped on 20mph roads.

Road sensors measured speed from over three million vehicles across nine locations in Wales over a two week period between November and December.

Data gathered shows the average speeds on main roads dropped an average of 4mph - from 28.9mph to 24.8mph.

The Welsh Government says this provides 'clear evidence' that speeds are 'moving in the right direction'.