Friday 24 November 2017

Speed limit blitz to cut carnage on our roads

Fiach Kelly

SPEED limits are set to be slashed on rural roads across the country following a massive overhaul of the current system.

The Irish Independent has learned that every speed limit on every road will be scrutinised in a drive to reduce accidents and deaths.

The core aim is to improve road safety and to ensure that limits match the state of the roads. This follows a series of glaring inconsistencies between permitted limits and the conditions of roads.

Safety chiefs claim the road network -- especially in rural areas -- is "littered" with roads that have speed limits that are far too high, causing unnecessary accidents and deaths.

It is understood that many speed limits on rural roads are in line for reductions under the revamped system.

But those on modernised roads could also be revised upwards under the plan, which sources said was aimed at getting rid of "daft" limits.

The nationwide study has been ordered by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar. Most likely to be affected are rural roads that have limits of 80kmh.

The examination will be carried out by the National Roads Authority (NRA) and local councils.

However, speed limits are likely to be increased on routes such as well-lit dual carriageways.

And motorists will be asked to take part in the survey to give as broad a reflection of concerns and opinion as possible.

They will be able to contact local councils who control regional and local roads.

The NRA controls limits on national primary and secondary roads.

The plan is also aimed at reducing inconsistencies between different counties and regions, which can cause confusion for motorists.

The audit hopes to address:

- Speed limits such as 80kmh on boreens with grass growing up the middle.

- Speed limits that are too slow, such as 60kmh on a straight stretch of dual carriageway with two miles of clear visibility ahead.

- The wrong speed limit in the wrong place, such as an 80kmh sign at a dangerous corner on a country road.

- Stretches of road that don't have enough signs, leading to confusion among motorists about the speed they should be travelling at.

- Areas where there are too many speed signs, leading to confusion about the true speed limit.

Mr Varadkar says recent road safety measures like such as speed cameras and new drink-driving laws "have gone a long way towards improving road safety".

"However, we need to ensure that the right speed limits are in operation on the right roads," the Dublin West TD added.

"We all know of cases where speed limits are inappropriately low or inappropriately high.

"I understand that there is some confusion among drivers about the various speed limits which should and do apply, as well as the approach to speed-limit signage on national, regional and local roads.

Allegations

"There are also allegations that local authorities are not consistent in how they decide on the appropriate speed limit which has also contributed to driver confusion."

Conor Faughnan from AA Roadwatch said the national road network was "littered" with country boreens and roads with limits that were too high, mostly at 80kmh.

Local authorities have the power to set speed limits on certain roads, but if they do not use that power, the national default speed limit of 80kmh applies.

Mr Faughnan also highlighted the N4 Dublin-to-Sligo road, where the limit is 80kmh leaving or entering the capital, even though it is four-lanes wide on either side and has a concrete median in the middle.

Conditions

He said this was too slow, especially since motorists are coming off a 120kmh motorway.

"On that same N4 further west in Co Sligo, the road becomes a dangerous single-lane road with ditches on either side that are lined with white crosses erected by the locals to mark places where people have died -- and the speed limit is 100kmh," Mr Faughnan added.

"From the point of view of the ordinary motorist, how on earth are they supposed to treat limits with respect when the same national primary route has such spectacular contradictions as that on it?"

Irish Independent

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