A grieving mum whose son died after he was struck by a car three years ago is glad local authorities around the country are being urged to introduce 30km/h zones in urban areas.
Roseann Brennan’s six-year-old son Jake died in her arms after being knocked down by a car outside his home in Kilkenny in June 2014.
Determined that her son’s name and spirit would live on, Ms Brennan founded the campaign group Jake’s Legacy to push for strict 30km/h speed limits in residential areas.
International evidence shows that Ireland is falling behind Europe in setting 30km/h speed limits in cities and towns.
Research by the Road Safety Authority has found that more than half of drivers break the speed limit on urban roads.
The RSA used its annual academic road safety lecture in Dublin yesterday to highlight the need for more of the lower speed limits across Ireland.
RSA chief executive, Moyagh Murdock, said Dublin City Council pioneered the roll out of 30km/h limits in Ireland and hoped other local authorities around the country follow their example.
Ms Murdock said 30km/h limits in town and city centres created a safer, healthier, greener, prosperous, quieter and better quality of life for people.
“30km/h limits in our towns and cities also means a safer place for our most vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and children,” she said.
The RSA’s speed survey found that 57% of car drivers broke the speed limits on Irish urban roads where it was 60km/h or less. Over half of trucks were also speeding in urban areas.
Ms Brennan has said the difference between 50km/h and 30km/h was a broken leg and a child dying in his mother’s arms.
“I am glad to see that the RSA recognise that speeding in built-up areas is a problem and that a national conversation on the issue is needed. I have been calling for it for three years and two months now.”
After her son’s death, Ms Brennan was shocked to discover that local authorities had the power to set speed limits of 30km/h in designated areas but few had done so.
“I was asked at my little boy’s inquest if there was anything we’d like to see come of his death and we said a speed limit of 30km/h that was mandatory in all housing estates.”
Speakers at the RSA event included Rod King, founder and campaign director of the “20’s Plenty for Us”, a voluntary organisation established in 2007 that supports communities in Britain wanting to lower speeds in residential areas to 20m/h (30km/h).
Over 15m people live in local authorities in Britain that have implemented 20m/h (30km/h) speed limits in both urban and residential streets.
“It’s not that speed causes collisions so much as speed not allowing the collision to be avoided or the consequences mitigated,” said Mr King.
In the last couple of years, there have been significant moves towards 30km/h becoming the default speed limit in urban areas on the continent.
Grenoble in France has introduced a 30km/h zone covering the entire city. Paris intends having a citywide 30km/h limit by 2020.
The Spanish government wants 30km/h to become the default speed limit on urban roads. Valencia has imposed a 30km/h limit throughout its historic central zone.
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