The Government has published the Speed Limit Review report and has outlined how they hope to pass the required legal changes in Q1 2024, but councils will still be responsible for setting limits.
The Department of Transport highlighted how the World Health Organisation has estimated that a 5% reduction in average speed could result in a 30% reduction in fatal collisions.
The report and comments from the Department confirms that local councils will still be responsible for setting the speed limits and that the changes are to the default limits which means that some roads can have higher or lower speed limits applied to them.
This means that much of the commentary and reporting around this issue has been flawed or misleading.
The report outlines that the process for setting speed limits will be reviewed as part of the legal changes, but this is understood to relate to the current inflexible system, including councillors having no choice but to accept or reject the full package of changes proposed after a speed limit consultation is taken in their area.
According to the Department of Transport, the key points in the review are:
- “Default speed limit on national secondary roads to reduce from 100km/h to 80km/h.”
- “Default speed limit for the network of local and rural roads throughout the country to be reduced from 80km/h to 60km/h.”
- “Default speed limit on urban roads, which include built up areas as well as housing estates and town centres, to reduce to 30km/h.”
- “Arterial roads and radial routes around urban settings would be able to remain at 50km/h. There are no proposed changes to the default speed limits on motorways, national primary roads or regional roads contained in the review. The framework allows for some appropriate, upward variations where a road is deemed to be safe and good quality on assessment by local authorities.”
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said: “This report is being published at a critical time, when fatalities on Irish roads are increasing at an unacceptable rate and after a particularly painful period of time when we have lost too many young people and families who all set out on their journeys expecting to arrive safely. The devastation and loss is being felt right across the country and we have to take action to make our roads safer and more predictable for everyone who uses them.”
He added: “We committed in the Programme for Government to review and, where appropriate, reduce speed limits to address road safety issues and ensure greater compliance. The implementation of the recommendations in this report will contribute to making Irish roads safer for all road users.”
Minister of State Jack Chambers said: “The marked rise in road fatalities this year has been a source of serious concern to all of us. There is no doubt that speeding is a significant contributing factor to many collisions. Implementing the recommendations from the Speed Limit Review will allow for a consistent approach to setting of speed limits across the country.”
He said that the recommendations in the report will help to achieve the target in the Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2021–2030 of halving fatalities and serious injuries by 2030 and move towards Vision Zero.
Chambers added: “These measures need to be part of a range of initiatives to drastically improve road safety. I have met with Justice Minister Helen McEntee to discuss enforcement action on our roads. We will be ending the anomaly in our penalty points system and we’re expanding the GoSafe contract. I am also working with the Road Safety Authority so we effectively target the right cohort with our communications campaigns.”
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A press release also said: “Changes to the default speed limits will require primary legislation and it is envisaged that the necessary legislation could be passed in Q1 2024. Statutory guidelines will also be updated such that implementation of the Review’s recommendations can commence during 2024.”
The report said: “For built up and urban areas it is recommended that a default speed limit of 30km/h is introduced. A 30km/h limit should apply, for all urban centres, residential roads and locations where there is a significant presence of vulnerable/active road users. Exceptions may be permitted as follows:”
- Pedestrian zones and shared space/zones where a speed limit of 20 km/h would apply.
- 50 km/h for National, Regional, arterial roads and key public transport routes.
- 60 km/h on Transition zones on National, Regional, arterial roads and key public transport routes.
- Urban arterial roads with a high design speed such as motorways, certain dual carriageways and roads with limited access/ where higher limits.
The report also outlined: “Rural roads speeds are higher compared to urban roads with the network varying extensively and inconsistent. It is recommended that default Speed Limits remain the same on the rural road network except for:” -“
- National Secondary Roads where it is recommended that the default Speed Limit be reduced from 100 km/h to 80 km/h to align with the Safe System principles and to reduce the severity of head on collisions.
- Local Roads where it is recommended that the default Speed Limit be reduced from 80 km/h to 60km/h to align with the use of the network and the Safe System principles.
It is also recommended that the following Safe System changes are implemented:
- For sections of the current road network where it is proposed to maintain a speed limit over 80km/h, the requirements to divide these roads and manage pedestrians/cyclists shall be investigated.
- All new sections of the rural road network that are to have a speed of over 80 km/h, not yet through the planning process, should be designed as divided roads and have appropriate segregated provision for pedestrians or cyclists.
- All new pedestrian and cycle infrastructure should be segregated from general traffic on sections of the road network where the speed limit is greater than 60 km/h.
Read the full report at gov.ie/en/publication/012b3-speed-limit-review/