The introduction of new speed limits on national secondary roads and local roads is “driven by political agendas rather than genuine safety concerns,” according to the Rural Independent Group of TDs.

Independent Tipperary TD and the leader of the group, Deputy Mattie McGrath, has criticised the introduction of the new speed limits as a move “that will only hinder rural motorists and users”.

The Road Traffic Bill 2023, which was approved by the Dáil this week, will reduce the:

  • 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 reduce 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.

But according to Deputy McGrath research published by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in March 2022 suggests that a reduction in speed limits would result in a higher number of road fatalities.

Speed limits

The research stated: “Reductions in speed limits on national roads are estimated to result in an increase in collisions and fatalities (e.g. 35 additional fatalities a year under the 30kph reduction scenario) on the road network.

“This is brought about by a portion of traffic avoiding the higher quality and safer (but now slower) national roads network in favour of more direct but less safe routes,” TII outlined.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Jack Chambers, previously told the Dáil that the Road Traffic Bill 2023 was “a response to the ongoing rising trend of road fatalities and serious injuries”.

But Deputy McGrath believes the bill “is an overreaction with no substantial evidence supporting its supposed safety benefits”.

“This policy, driven by flawed analysis, will not only inconvenience rural drivers but also pose economic and safety risks.

“The blind approval of this legislation disregards critical reports and overlooks the real solutions to road safety, such as improved road design, more investment in a better road network and enforcement of existing traffic laws,” he added.

Road deaths

Latest roads policing statistics compiled by An Garda Síochána show that so far this year 39 people have lost their lives on Irish roads which is an increase in corresponding figures for last year.

Source: An Garda Síochána