Thursday, 17 February 2005
Department of Transport
Question 108: To ask the Minister for Transport when revised guidelines in respect of speed limits will issue to local authorities; the reason for the delay in issuing these guidelines; and if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the delay is causing problems for both local authorities and communities. [5417/05]
The relevant provisions of the Road Traffic Act 2004 which was enacted on 22 December 2004 to 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 metric traffic signs 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 had been applied by county and city councils in lieu of default speed limits. 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 power to apply special speed limits has been vested in the elected members since the passing of the Road Traffic Act 1994.
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 from 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 on speed limits 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 and the 120 km/h special speed limit may only be pursued in accordance with provisions in guidelines which I am empowered to issue under section 9.
Draft guidelines are being prepared and my Department is engaged in a consultation process with county and city councils. The process will be completed shortly at which point I will issue the statutory guidelines to local authorities on a formal basis. Within a matter of weeks, local authorities will be in a position to pursue the full range of initiatives available through special speed limit by-laws.