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Thursday 22 March 2018

60 km/h speed limit would be 'absurd' for the M50 - AA

M50 congestion
M50 congestion

David Kearns

AA Ireland has called "absurd" the proposal to enforce a 60 km/h speed limit on Dublin’s M50 during rush hour.

On Monday it was revealed that the National Roads Authority was looking at lower rush hour speed limits on the M50 as a way to reduce traffic congestion on the route.

AA Ireland said that such a “hard” limit would be impractical, believing what is really needed is a dynamic speed system to better control the flow of traffic.

“The current 100 km/h speed limit is academic,” said AA Ireland’s Conor Faughnan. “It doesn’t matter because you can’t do it when you’re stuck in traffic.”

Mr Faughnan was speaking on Todayfm’s Last Word and said the problem on the M50 was ‘rubber banding’ – when congestion is steadying increase due to a ripple effect from vehicles routinely braking causing those behind them to brake more severely.

“There’s a breakdown on the M50 south bound but it’s causing a tailback on the North bound. Sounds crazy but it does happen. Cars slow down to have a look, those behind them brake, those further back brake hard, and a ripple effect is created that interrupts the entire traffic flow,” he said.

“What the NRA is saying isn’t quite as dumb as it sounds. What they are pointing out is that the M50 has become very busy so in terms of optimising the flow measures have to been taken.

“Now there’s no doubt that a limit of 60 km/h could be introduced by itself, which would be absurd, but we’re hopeful that they are talking about managing traffic flow by using dynamic speed limits.”

Mr Faughnan said a dynamic system could be used to vary speed limits based on circumstances, ensuring that slower speeds could be used on busy sections to prevent rubber banding while further on speed could be increased to keep the traffic flow moving.

“It wouldn’t be terribly difficult to do. And it wouldn’t be such a bad thing either, certainly if you’ve got drivers stuck in traffic being told they can go 100 km/h,” he added.

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