Dáil Éireann - Volume 623 - 04 July, 2006

Written Answers. - Road Safety.

Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport his views on whether, following a lapse of 14 years since the last publication of the rules of the road, it is appropriate to give 28 days for public submissions; if he will extend the deadline to facilitate organisations wishing to make comprehensive submissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25705/06]

  Mr. Cullen:The current Rules of the Road Booklet was first published in June 1995. My Department has been working on the revision of that publication. There has been a very considerable amount of work involved in that many significant changes in the overall area of road traffic law have to be reflected in the revised booklet. The draft document was placed on the Department’s website for consultation on 2 June with a closing date of 30th June for receipt of submissions.

It was always my intention that a short opportunity for comments on the revised draft Rules of the Road for the public would be provided and that the new booklet will be finalised and published by the end of the Summer. Submissions received will be considered in finalising the draft document.

In my view, 28 days is a reasonable length of time to provide for a short consultation period. My priority is to ensure that the new version is finalised and published as soon as possible.

The new booklet will be made available for sale. The fact that the new booklet will also be made available on-line by the new Road Safety Authority will ensure that, in the future, the booklet will provide up-to-date information on changes in traffic law and other requirements on an ongoing basis.

Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if he will instruct all local authorities to undertake a review of the speed limits operating on all non-national roads in view of the increase in the number of penalty points and the consequent importance of clarity in the application of speed limits and the implications for road safety of the many inappropriate speed limits operating throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25721/06]

[438] Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if, as indicated by him at the time of the change over to the metric system, it is Government policy that all local authorities should undertake a review of existing speed limits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25722/06]

Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the local authorities which have conducted speed reviews since the introduction of metrification; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25784/06]

  Mr. Cullen:I propose to take Questions Nos. 452, 453 and 456 together.

The decision making power in relation to whether or not to apply a special speed limit in lieu of a default speed limit at any location in their area was devolved to the elected members of county councils and city councils under the Road Traffic Act 1994. This position providing for the exercise of power at local level in this area was retained under the Road Traffic Act 2004 in relation to the new speed limit structures in metric values that were introduced on 20 January 2005.

The 2004 Act contained transitional provisions in section 12 to provide for the automatic conversion to metric units of measurement of the special speed limits that were contained in existing bye-laws. This conversion took effect from 20 January 2005. The 2004 Act provides that those existing bye-laws continue to apply until such time as bye-laws are made under the 2004 Act in respect of those locations. There is no statutory requirement on councils to carry out a review of speed limits or to do so within a specific timeframe.

I have no power under the Road Traffic Acts to instruct the 34 county councils and city councils to carry out a review of speed limits in their area. The decision whether or not to carry out a review, the timing of such review and the making of any new special speed limit bye-laws subsequent to a review are matters for each individual council. I have written, however, to all the road authorities reminding them of their important functions in this area and I will do this again if necessary.