I thank the Deputy for once again raising an important issue aimed at saving the lives of people on our roads, and in this case aimed at saving vulnerable people, including children in vulnerable areas.
While the Road Traffic Act 2004 sets default speed limits for various categories of roads, elected members of local authorities have the statutory responsibility for making special speed limit by-laws for roads in their area - with, in the case of national roads, the consent of Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII. The making of such by-laws is a reserved function of elected members.
My Department issued updated guidelines for setting and managing speed limits in Ireland in 2015 to assist local authorities in setting special speed limits, taking account of relevant national policy and local circumstances, including road safety. Provision was made for greater use of lower speed limits in urban areas. This includes greater use of the 30 km/h speed limit, as used widely in the EU, and 30 km/h slow zones. This corresponds to 20 mph, the lowest limit in the UK. These slow zones can be introduced to increase safety for the most vulnerable on suitable roads, such as roads immediately adjacent to play areas. Road authorities are asked to seriously consider lowering the speed limit from 50 km/h to 30 km/h in residential estates. Since 2015, 30 km/h speed limits have been applied in more than 6,400 housing estates. Where a limit of 30 km/h is being implemented, local authorities and community groups should consider applying slow zones.
My Department has been funding this programme of works since 2015. Provision has also been made for a 20 km/h speed limit. The 20 km/h speed limit should only be used in very limited circumstances, set out in the updated traffic signs manual. It is not intended to replace the 30 km/h speed limit as the norm in housing estates. In addition, in 2013 my Department issued the design manual for urban roads and streets. This provides for improved design to support traffic calming and safer interaction between road users by encouraging lower speeds on new roads in urban areas. Apart from making provision for variable speed limits, I have no plans to review or to change the range of speed limits available to road authorities.