Tuesday, 15 February 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
153. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport if he has instructed local authorities to ensure that appropriate low speed limits are observed at schools and other high risk areas following the changeover to metric speed limits; the reason such low limits were not in place at the time of the changeover; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4760/05]
347. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Transport if guidelines have been issued to local authorities regarding the implementation of 30 km/h speed limits in the vicinity of schools and other appropriate areas (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4919/05]
364. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Transport, further to Parliamentary Questions. Nos. 127 and 128 of 27 January 2005, the progress to date; when he will be in a position to facilitate local authorities in carrying out such reviews; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5114/05]
The relevant provisions of the Road Traffic Act 2004 that establish a new system of speed limits based on metric values were commenced on 20 January 2005. The changeover process involved the provision of more than 58,000 traffic signs depicting the application of speed limits across the country. The new traffic signs that were provided prior to 20 January indicate the locations at which the default speed limits provided for in the 2004 Act apply or the locations at which special speed limits that had been determined special speed limits already made by county and city councils apply in lieu of default speed limits. The power to apply special speed limits has been vested in the elected members of county and city councils since the passage of the Road Traffic Act 1994.
The determination of what speed limit should apply at particular locations in lieu of a default speed limit is a matter for the elected members of city and county councils. The Minister for Transport has no statutory power to issue instructions or directions in this regard.
Through section 12 of the Road Traffic Act 2004 determinations relating to the application of special speed limits made by county and city councils under the previous legislation are deemed to continue to apply. The application of the new special speed limit of 30 km/h could not have been applied from the date of the changeover to metric speed limits in view of the fact that its deployment may only be pursued through the provisions relating to special speed limits under the new Act.
Section 9 of the 2004 Act sets out a new process for the making of speed limit by-laws by the elected members of county and city councils. The range of options available to county and city councils in relation to the deployment of special speed limits has been expanded by comparison to previous legislation. It also provides that the Minister for Transport may issue guidelines relating to the making of special speed limit by-laws.
With the commencement of the provisions in the Road Traffic Act 2004 relating to speed limits generally with effect from 20 January 2005 and the completion of the programme for the provision of the traffic signs necessary to support the actual changeover, county and city councils are now free to embark on the process of making new special speed limit by-laws.
The deployment of the new 30 km/h special speed limit may only be pursued in accordance with provisions in guidelines that I am empowered to issue under section 9. Draft guidelines are being prepared at present and my Department is currently engaged in a consultation process with county and city councils. That process will be completed in the coming weeks and I will then issue the statutory guidelines to the local authorities on a formal basis. Within a matter of weeks therefore, local authorities will be in a position to pursue the full range of initiatives available through special speed limit by-laws including the provision of appropriate low speed limits in the vicinity of schools and other high risk locations.
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