Donohoe accepts 20km/h residential limit in principle

Paschal Donohoe says Dáil committee will consider ‘Jake’s law’ in new legislation

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe has accepted the principle of a Sinn Féin proposal for mandatory 20km/h limit in residential areas

He was responding in the Dáil to the party’s Private Member’s Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill amending existing law.

Mr Donohoe said that in the heads of a new road traffic Bill, which had been circulated to the Oireachtas transport committee, he would introduce the option of a 20km/h limit. "That is a clear mechanism in which this can happen, promptly and quickly,'' he said.

The Minister said he had a “genuine challenge’’ with a concept of a speed limit being mandatory and centrally imposed. There were problems with blanket speed limits and those best able to define a residential area were the local authorities and councillors.

“That is the challenge I face in delivering a mandatory definition of the implementation of a speed limit,’’ he said.

Mr Donohoe said the objective was to prevent speed and improve safety for all. He said he issued local authorities with a circular on the control of vehicle speed in housing estates.

Hit by a car

Introducing the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was known as “Jake’s law’’ in memory of six-year-old

Jake Brennan

who died after being hit by a car last June. He had died in his mother’s arms on the street in Kilkenny where lived and played.

The Bill, she said, would not have been introduced but for the determination, persistence and the powerful love of his family, his father, Christopher, and his mother, Roseanne. She welcomed them to the public gallery.

Ms Brennan has been involved in a sleep-out protest outside Leinster House to highlight a need for a change in the law.

Ms McDonald said between 1997 and 2012, 262 children, aged 14 years and under, lost their lives and a further 1,115 were seriously injured on roads.

While 60 per cent of child fatalities occurred outside built-up residential areas, 57 per cent of child injuries occurred within them.

She said the current situation whereby speed limits in housing estates could be introduced as a matter of local authority discretion, in a piecemeal fashion, was not satisfactory. “It is not working and it is not sufficient to protect the safety of residents, particularly children,’’ she added.

She said “Jake’s law’’ created a standardised, statutory speed limit of 20km/h, so as to introduce a level of safety to those housing estates where children lived, played chasing, kicked football, hurled and rode their bicycles.

Ms McDonald said 20km/h was meant to be a low limit and was set in the knowledge that the greater the speed the greater the chance of serious injury or death.