Saturday 23 September 2017

Speed bumps are costing Irish motorists 'thousands' in repairs every year

Blame game as experts estimate 'bumps' are costing motorists 'thousands' in repairs

Drivers claim their wheels have been damaged by speed bumps and ramps
Drivers claim their wheels have been damaged by speed bumps and ramps

Declan O'Byrne

'Speed bumps' are costing drivers hundreds of extra euro in maintenance costs, it is claimed. But is it the ramps or the drivers who are really at fault?

Independent.ie has been inundated with complaints in recent months from drivers who claim their vehicles have been damaged by speed bumps and ramps.

To get an idea of how widespread such damage can be, we contacted a number of garages.

Several told us that repairs to suspension systems constitute a high proportion of their work now. One independent owner in the Dublin area estimated that up to 80pc of repairs carried out at his workshop, on robust modern vehicles, required work to damaged suspensions.

Work includes repair or replacement of coils, springs and bushes. We were told there has been an "explosion" in demand for such repairs.

A lot of people have complained about the cost of damage to the underside of their car. One frustrated driver said recent expensive repairs were directly as a result of colliding with speed bumps, many of which, he claimed, are "too severe and of flawed design".

His repair bill came to just under €600 - to replace two coils and shock absorbers after traversing a bump at relatively slow speed. The damage was compounded by an adjacent gaping pothole.

"There are far too many speed ramps in suburban areas, particularly in housing estates. Many are poorly sited and many are too sharp and poorly marked. Many are of shoddy construction and can cause a serious road hazard," he complained.

Another reckoned the damage by speed bumps is "greatly underestimated".

Several people believed ramps are not properly maintained and are causing damage to wheel rims and tyres as well.

The manager of a Dublin-based outlet of a leading national motor parts distributor described ramps as "a bloody nuisance". Apart from suspension damage, the impact on cars can include the misalignment of headlights and their mountings. He said the combined cost of repairs can begin from "the €300 mark".

Anecdotal evidence suggests that even if a motorist's claim for damages against a local authority in such circumstances is upheld, it can be years before compensation is paid out.

THE OTHER SIDE

According to Dublin City Council's website, the criteria for it to consider installation of a speed ramp where requested by local residents, are:

*15pc of all vehicles travelling through the area faster than 50kmh.

* More than 60 vehicles an hour using the road.

* The road should have a straight run of approximately 200 metres.

* There should be genuine concerns about safety, based, for example, on accident statistics, and confirmation by the Garda Traffic Division.

A spokesperson for the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said the organisation had no role in the usage of speed bumps or ramps.

Apart from motorists, environmentalists claim speed bumps are a cause of pollution because drivers slow down and speed up.

However, the managing director of one of the country's biggest civil engineering firms, which carries out major road contracts for many local authorities, disputed the claim.

He said the link was "very tenuous". Drivers need to accept that speed bumps are sometimes necessary, and if motorists drive slowly between each (which is the objective), then he could not see there would be any additional pollution.

Anyone really concerned about pollution "should walk more and make more use of public transport," he continued.

He believes drivers who damage their vehicles are those who refuse to slow down sufficiently when they meet a speed bump.

It was, he said, because of such drivers that speed bumps had become a necessity in some areas. Those who keep speed limits and slowed sufficiently are unlikely to do damage.

In the past, many housing estates were designed with major traffic routes running through them. Planning has improved and most new estates are designed so there are no houses fronting on to through roads, and fewer, so-called 'rat-runs'. That minimises the need for speed bumps. However, the cost of retrofitting traffic-calming schemes in older developments is prohibitive - hence the need for speed bumps in these areas.

The fact of the matter is that speed bumps are part of the landscape. But should that mean that damage to cars is inevitable?

* Let us know what you think: email ecunningham@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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