HALF of secondary roads and 10pc of national roads could have their speed limits reduced under new guidelines introduced by the Department of Transport.
However, it will be up to local authorities and the National Road Authority (NRA) to decide how many of these roads will have their speed limits adjusted, a department spokesperson said.
“The department does estimate that up to 10pc of the national primary road network could change from 100kph to 80kph. And that possibly 50pc of the national secondary network could change from 100kph to 80kph,” he said.
The reduced speed limits would affect roads less than 7m wide, as only those wider than that would retain a 100kph limits.
They are part of a raft of new speed limit guidelines announced by Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday including urban “slow zones” in residential areas with a maximum speed limit of 30kph, new limits of 80kph on national roads less than 7m in width and new rural speed limit signs giving drivers discretion up to 80kph.
However, the grieving mother of Jake Brennan (6), who was knocked down and killed last year while playing outside his Co Kilkenny home, criticised the decision not to introduce mandatory 20kph speed limits in enclosed housing estates.
“Private estates will not be covered by the new measures,” said Roseann Brennan, who since her son’s death has
campaigned for much tighter restrictions, known as ‘Jake’s Law’.
Mr Donohoe said Ms Brennan had made a very important contribution to the road safety debate and he planned to introduce legislation permitting a 20kph limit, but local authorities were best placed to decide if this was appropriate in specific estates, based on local conditions.
“All the evidence we have from international best practice is that 30kph is a speed limit that’s credible, that we have a good prospect of being able to roll out across the country and it’s a speed limit that will make a big difference to the saving of lives,” he said.
“I would remind people that 20kph is just over 12mph, and an essential learning we have had in relation to the roll-out of speed limits is that it has to be at a level of motion that’s credible and that people believe they can travel at for a sustained period.”
The Road Safety Authority supports a 30kph speed limit for the majority of urban areas as this had been implemented in countries with the lowest fatality rates, against which Ireland is benchmarking itself, including Spain, the UK and Switzerland, said its chief executive Moyagh Murdock.
An appeals mechanism will also be developed to give local communities a say in deciding speed limits on roads, while a new website speedlimits.ie is also under construction, said Mr Donohoe.