The Road Traffic Act 2004 establishes default speed limits that apply to defined categories of roads and which can only be changed by county and city councils through the making of special speed limit bye-laws, and Section 9 of that Act sets out the range of special speed limits that may be set by local authorities through such bye-laws. Statutory responsibility for the setting of special speed limits is vested in members of county and city councils. To assist in setting these special speed limits, my Department issued Guidelines for the Application of Special Speed Limits to all local authorities in January 2011 and the onus is on local authorities to take them into account in relation to any special speed limits which they set.
The purpose of these guidelines is to provide advice and guidance in relation to the making of speed limit bye-laws by county and city councils for the purpose of applying special speed limits. After taking the guidelines into account it is considered best practice for local authority officials to advise the elected members of their respective councils on what a suitable speed limit regime should be for different roads in their areas of responsibility. For new roads the local authority would have access to the the relevant technical information relating to the speed for which the road was designed.
As part of a Direction given by the then Minister in January 2011, all local authorities were requested to undertake an assessment of special speed limits in their functional areas. I do not believe that the local authorities sufficiently engaged with this direction and as a result in 2012, I announced that a review of speed limits would be undertaken and to that end, my Department established a stakeholder group to progress this work. The Automobile Association, An Garda Síochána, the Road Safety Authority, the National Roads Authority, representatives of local authorities and the National Transport Authority accepted my invitation to participate in the Working Group. As the Deputy will appreciate, this is an issue which requires detailed consideration. I anticipate that the Group will report to me shortly, and I will give careful consideration to any recommendations contained in their Report.