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78% of motorists found to be speeding on uncongested 50km/h roads, and 93% at weekends

A new approach to the Road Safety Authority’s annual ‘free speed’ surveys has found that far higher percentage of motorists are speeding in uncongested conditions than previously recorded by Ireland’s national road safety body.

The difference mainly involved moving away from more obvious handheld devices to automatic traffic counters.

The RSA said: “Overall, 78% of drivers were found to have driven in excess of the posted speed limit of 50km/h. When viewed from a weekday perspective, 75% of observed drivers were driving in excess of 50km/h. At the weekend, 93% of observed drivers broke the speed limit.”

The RSA said that free speed is defined as the speed at which drivers choose to travel when unconstrained by road geometry, weather conditions, or traffic congestion. The new preliminary data was collected at 11 urban road locations by using automatic traffic counters over a 9-day period in October 2021.

Of the motorists counted as speeding, 75% were speeding more than 5km/h above the posted limit.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, said: “The number of drivers observed speeding in the RSA’s recent study in 50km/h zones is very concerning. These are speed zones that are rich in pedestrians and cyclists, vulnerable road users. Reducing the risk posed to vulnerable road users in these speed zones and encouraging safer, greener active travel is one of the key priorities of the new Government Road Safety Strategy.”

Speaking at the launch of the June Bank Holiday Road Safety Appeal and National Slow Down Day at NUI Galway, Minister Naughton said: “For example, we are reviewing speed limits and examining the possibility of a greater roll-out of 30km/h speed zones, as well as conducting a review of penalties related to speeding. New in vehicle safety assist technology such as Intelligent Speed Assistance and the roll out of average speed cameras will also contribute to preventing speed related harm.”

She added: “While all these actions are important to reducing speeding on our roads, it is important to remember that we all have a shared responsibility as individuals and a society to slow down to and protect ourselves and other road users.”

Paula Hilman, the Assistant Garda Commissioner with responsibility for Roads Policing and community engagement, said: “We are asking all drivers to support our National ‘Slow Down’ Day not just on ‘Slow Down Day’ but every day. If we all slow down a little, we can make a big difference.”

He pointed out that the World Health Organisation estimated that a 5% reduction in average speed could result in a 30% reduction in fatal collisions.

He added: “Remember that speeding is not worth the potential devastating loss of life or serious injury but also isn’t worth the very real risk of losing your licence – if you are detected speeding you will receive 3 penalty points on your licence, if you get 12 penalty points in three years you will lose your licence for 6 months. A lower threshold of 7 points applies for learner drivers. Think of the impact a disqualification would have not only on your daily life but those who rely on you – family, friends, partners.”

Sam Waide, CEO of the Road Safety Authority, said: “Studies have repeatedly shown that drivers overestimate the amount of time they can gain by speeding. This is known as the speed fallacy. The perceived gain of time is much larger than the actual gain of time, which is in fact only marginal.”

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He added: “For example, completing an average journey of 14 kilometres at 90km/h instead of 80km/h only saves 1 minute and 8 seconds. So, while you might gain one or two minutes journey time you risk losing your license and potentially your livelihood.”

Meanwhile, the Garda Press Office has just released example speed detection in the first five hours of the 24 hour National Slow Down. Gardai said that the high-visbilty GoSafe van checked the speed of 40,917 vehicles and detected 209 vehicles travelling in excess of the applicable speed limit.

Examples of motorists putting themselves and others at risk include:

  • 140km/h in a 80km/h Zone on the N4 Doddsborough Lucan Dublin
  • 87km/h in a 50km/h Zone on the N11 Morehampton Road Dublin 4 Dublin
  • 86km/h in a 50km/h Zone on the Leopardstown Road Dublin18 Dublin
  • 84km/h in a 50km/h Zone on the Cork Street Dublin8 Dublin
  • 81km/h in a 50km/h Zone on the Bridge Street Kilcormac Offaly
  • 78km/h in a 50km/h Zone on the Church Street Clara Offaly
  • 74km/h in a 50km/h Zone on the R135 Coolshannagh Monaghan Monaghan
  • 72km/h in a 50km/h Zone on the N72 Fossa Killarney Kerry
  • 71km/h in a 50km/h Zone on the Limerick Road Charleville Cork
  • 69km/h in a 50km/h Zone on the Dodder View Road Dublin14 Dublin
  • 109km/h in a 80km/h Zone on the R178 Redbog Carrickmacross Louth is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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Cian Ginty

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