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Dangerous driving 'deeply ingrained' in Irish society, TD says amid speed limit review

The limits are set to be reduced by as much as 20km on some roads – but there are concerns this won’t be enough to reduce deaths.

DANGEROUS DRIVING IS “endemic” in Ireland, Fine Gael TD Ciaran Cannon has said, as the government plans to lower speed limits nationwide.

The limits are set to be reduced by as much as 20km on some roads. The new plans come after a series of tragic accidents, which have prompted politicians and the public to call for a renewed focus on road safety.

Cannon, a TD in the Galway East constituency, has welcomed the review, but believes that this alone will not reduce road deaths, as current speed limits are not adequately enforced.

“It’s cultural, it’s deeply ingrained within our driving culture that breaking the speed limit is nothing to be deeply concerned about,” he said.

“We need a root and branch restructuring of our speed limits and greater enforcement”, he said.

“I would argue it’s not acceptable to have a speed limit greater than 30km/h in any Irish town.”

“Poor driving behaviour is tolerated”

Cannon is critical of the Road Safety Authority spending resources on campaigns that distribute high-visibility vests to schools, as this alone can send the wrong message.

“The vast majority of the advice emanating from the Road Safety Authority is directed at the vulnerable person,” he said.

“You need to be licensed to drive a car, and there’s a very good reason for that. You are in charge of a machine that’s capable of killing or maiming people for life. We’ve forgotten about that.

“General poor driving behaviour is tolerated.”

He added that Irish drivers and authorities need to “look seriously at changing the culture”.


Taking elements of speed management systems in other countries could help inform our own tactics.

One successful strategy here, Cannon says, was the instalment of a speed camera on the M7 motorway. “Why haven’t we done that on every motorway in Ireland?”

“There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here. We need to use technology to a greater extent than we’re using right now.”

He said we should copy the UK’s online portal, where road users can upload videos they take of dangerous driving, “rather than having to trapse down to a garda station with a USB stick and wait for weeks to have some sort of recording of that incident acted upon”. 

This week gardaí promoted national Slow Down Day, where they conduct a 24-hour national speed enforcement operation, hoping to discourage hazardous driving.

Cannon labelled it “tokenism”, saying it is “a cack-handed way” of trying to solve the problem.

“The gardaí should be doing this every day, because the day after people assume ‘well, that’s grand now, that’s the enforcement over, we can go back to doing what we did before’,” he said,

‘It’s well-known that speed kills’

Minister of State at the Department of Transport Jack Chambers said that he will bring detailed proposals to Government this month advising on the lowering of baseline speed limits.

The proposal recommends lowering speed limits from 100 km/h to 80 km/h on national secondary roads, from 80km/h to 60km/h on rural roads, while within towns, cities and built up areas, the limit will be 30km/h. Roads on the outskirts or arterial routes around urban areas will have a limit of 50km/h.

The 120 km/h speed limit on motorways and 100 km/h on national roads will remain as they are.

So far this year, 127 people have died on Irish roads – 23 more than the same period in 2022 and 38 more than the same period in 2019.

One-third of deaths this year have been people under 25. Approximately a quarter (29) were pedestrians.

Speaking today while on a visit to occupied Palestine, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said:

“We just have to look at the terrible, terrible loss of life on our roads over the last number of months, and weeks in particular.

“The shocking and very, very sad passing of young people going to joyous occasions.”

“No-one should not be moved by that and I am concerned because we had a significant downward trajectory over two decades in road accidents and road deaths,” he continued.

“There’s been an increase now in the past number of months. And I think we do have to act and we do have to move on that, because generally, it’s well known that speed kills.”

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