THE impact of driving at 20mph instead of 30mph is "lifesaving".

That is according to the University Hospital of Wales’ paediatric emergency consultant, Dr David Hanna.

“It’s simple, slower speeds save lives," he said.

"Every year in Wales we see the devastating impacts road traffic collisions have on children and their families.

"They are the biggest single cause of serious injury in children who are typically walking or cycling.”

Dr Hanna was speaking ahead of the introduction of a 20mph default speed limit across Wales from Sunday, September 17.

Twenty people are killed or seriously injured on Welsh roads every week, according to the latest police recorded collision data.

That’s more than 1,000 lives lost or seriously affected by crashes every year, with huge impacts on their families and friends.

International evidence also shows that on average, a person is around five times more likely to be killed when hit by a vehicle travelling at 30mph compared to 20mph.

According to Dr Hanna children are at more risk than adults.                       

“Children have less road awareness than adults and can be difficult to see," he said.

"They also tend to be struck higher on the body than adults due to their smaller height, and more likely to suffer severe injuries as a result.”

The plan has proven deeply controversial, with the Welsh Conservative's shadow transport minister Natasha Asghar calling the idea "tone-deaf".

“They’re spending nearly £30 million just to change the signs," she said. "We need sensible case-by-case speed limits that reflect local people’s wishes, not top-down diktats from the socialists in Cardiff Bay.” 

Speaking at the visit to the Emergency Unit at the UHW, chief medical officer for Wales, Frank Atherton said: “We’re now just over a month away from the biggest change in community safety we have seen in Wales for a generation.

"Reducing speeds not only saves lives, but helps us to build stronger, safer communities.

“Evidence from across the world shows that vehicle speed is one of the main reasons why people do not walk or cycle, with one in three Welsh adults saying that 20mph would increase their likelihood to walk or cycle more.

“So, not only will slower speeds save lives and reduce injuries, it will also help to keep people healthier and reduce the burden on the NHS."