I propose to take Questions Nos. 144 and 269 together.
A broadly based working group that was established last year to review speed limit policies, against the backdrop of the adoption of metric values for such speed limits, have presented a comprehensive report that incorporates recommendations across a range of areas.
Particular recommendations have been made in relation to the introduction of a special low speed limit of 30 kph. for residential areas where appropriate traffic calming has been provided and also for the application of special arrangements in the vicinity of schools where necessary. These special arrangements would involve the deployment of lower speed limits than normally prevail at the location during periods when children are entering and leaving the school.
The working group has also made specific proposals in relation to the maximum speed limits that should apply to heavy goods vehicles, HGVs, buses and vehicles drawing trailers when the new system of speed limits is implemented. The proposals provide that 90 kph. would be the speed limit for HGVs, single deck buses and vehicle-trailer combinations on motorways and dual carriageways and 80 kph. on all other roads not subject to a lower road speed limit. A separate speed limit of 70 kph. is proposed in respect of double deck buses.
I have given very careful consideration to the group's proposal and I intend to bring the necessary legislative proposals needed to support the new speed limit structure based on the group's report before the Oireachtas in the coming months.
I have no plans at present to require the display on HGVs of a sign showing the legal maximum speed limit applicable to such a vehicle. However, I would be prepared to explore in consultation with the various stake holders the question of the display of such a sign on HGVs.
I should point out that HGVs with a maximum mass exceeding 12 tonnes are fitted with a speed limiter which restricts their maximum speed to 90 kilometres per hour. The requirement to have a speed limiter is being extended to include all HGVs. From 1 January 2005, all new goods vehicles with a maximum mass over 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 12 tonnes will require to have a functioning speed limiter while such vehicles registered before January 2005 will require to have a speed limiter by 1 January 2007.