By Conor Faughnan
As you may have heard over recent weeks, a number of new measures around speed limits and their signage are now being rolled out around the country. This is something that the AA has been involved in at a grass roots level over the past few years and the process has been largely guided by the feedback of our Members.
To everyone who took the time back in 2012 to send us in those ludicrous examples of boreens with grass growing up the middle and cows peeping over the hedge alongside 80km speed limit signs, thanks for your invaluable help in resolving an issue that was bringing our entire speed limit system into disrepute.
Boreens and country lanes
Reverting back to what we once had, which the older among you will likely remember, a white circle with one or several diagonal slashes will be rolled out across our narrow country lanes. An internationally used sign, it indicates that you are off the main road network and must use your own judgement when it comes to an appropriate speed. I must stress however that the underlying law still applies; a maximum speed limit of 80km/ph must be observed.
Urban slow zones
I also welcome the news that a limit of 20km/ph, just 12 miles per hour, will not be enforced as a blanket rule in our country’s housing estates. While it may be appropriate in some estates which local authorities can assess on a case by case basis, in my view it would be impossible to enforce it across the board. While motorists may keep an eye out for Gardaí, realistically unless a speed limit is actively enforced it becomes virtually meaningless.
Traditionally traffic calming measures and traffic engineering tend to work better at a micro level and would be a more effective solution in my opinion.
The above are all reasonably positive steps however something which we haven’t heard enough about to date is the introduction of an independent peer review mechanism. If a speed limit isn’t in sympathy with the engineering of the route there should be a means for drivers to flag and challenge those that simply don’t make sense.
Take the Lucan road coming out of Dublin, the N4. At this stage of the route it is a 4 lane highway, a super standard of infrastructure, yet an 80km/ph limit applies. The same road further west in Longford and Roscommon, now a single lane, with crosses lining the ditches on either side is 100km/ph.
When speed limits such as the ones referenced above simply don’t make sense, cynicism naturally sets in which in turn undervalues our whole system. We’ll be working hard to get this over the line over the coming months and will keep you updated on progress in future communications.
LISTEN TO CONOR TALK TO PAT KENNY ON THESE NEW MEASURES HERE.