Written Answers. - Traffic Regulations.

Bernard Allen

Question:

406 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if he proposes to introduce legislation that will allow local authorities introduce 20 mile per hour speed limit zones in residential areas in order that these limits can dissuade drivers from using rat-runs through residential areas and to protect children playing in these estates. [7492/01]

The standard speed limit for built up urban areas is currently 30 miles per hour. In addition, there is a general obligation that a vehicle shall not be driven at a speed exceeding that which will enable its driver to bring it to a halt within the distance which the driver can see to be clear.

The Government Strategy for Road Safety, 1998-2002, indicated that changes to speed limit regimes, which were comprehensively 'reviewed' some years ago, were not proposed in the immediate term; the priority must instead be to secure a much higher level of compliance with existing speed limits.

However, the option of revising speed limits downwards is not ruled out if enforcement of existing limits does not show good progress towards the strategy goal of reducing present excessive levels of speeding. Such downward revisions could address lower speed limits, such as 20 miles per hour, in built up areas. Adequate legislative provisions are already in place in section 46 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961, as substituted by section 33 of the Road Traffic Act, 1994, if required, to support this approach.

Existing legislative provisions, in particular section 38 of the Road Traffic Act, 1994, empower road authorities, in the interest of the safety and convenience of road users, to provide such traffic calming measures as they consider desirable in respect of public roads in their charge, subject to the consent of the National Roads Authority in the case of national roads.