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06th Sep 2023

Speed limits to be reduced in new government plan to tackle road deaths

Simon Kelly

Speed limits reduced

Local authorities will be able to set different limits under certain circumstances.

The government is currently working on plans to reduce speed limits on many Irish roads, following the recent rise in deaths in the country.

The number of road deaths were up to double the amount in August compared to the same month’s total in 2022.

The plan would see the following changes to speed limits throughout the country:

  • Rural and local roads would drop from 80km/h to 60km/h
  • Urban and residential built-up areas would see a drop from 60km/h to 30km/h
  • National secondary roads, the limit would drop from 100km/h to 80km/h
  • Limits on motorways, national primary roads and regional roads will remain unchanged.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport Jack Chambers told RTÉ that the changes are about “setting a better, safer baseline and then revising limits upwards where it’s safe to do so,” while noting that 75% of fatalities take place on rural roads .

Minister Chambers said that local authorities will be able to set different limits in certain circumstances and will be given “detailed guidance” on the new framework, which is due to be implemented throughout 2024 and 2025.

“There’ll be discretion with good design and safety standards that speed limits can be revised upwards by local authorities in terms of local, rural and national secondary roads,” he said

“That’s the broad framework and we have to set the default speed limits.”

Changes to speed limits to tackle rising road deaths

The changes come about off the back of a harrowing month of road deaths, which included high-profile crashes involving a number of young people in Clonmel, Cashel, Laois and Monaghan.

It was reported that there have been 20% more fatalities in 2023 than 2022, and 40% more than 2019.

Minister Chambers also revealed that an updated communications campaign will be put in place to target specific cohorts associated with the underlying trend.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s News at One show last month, the minister said the speed limit review will “radically change” the “mishmash” of speed limits in the country.

Speed limit review

The head of Communications at AA Ireland broadly welcomed the speed limit plans, but noted some concerns about how they will be implemented.

Chief Executive of Irish Rural Link, Seamus Boland also welcomed proposals, but warned that speed limit reductions are “not the only answer”.

“My strong argument is that we need to do an awful lot more,” he said on Today with Claire Byrne.

“There are some roads where the 80 mile, even if it’s 60, is simply inappropriate. It doesn’t really describe the danger of the road ahead, or in some cases it makes it look ridiculous.”

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