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Road Safety

Bike and laserSpeed is a factor in one third of fatal collisions in Ireland.

A speed limit is not a target. It is simply the maximum speed you are legally entitled to drive at on a stretch of road. You must drive at a speed appropriate to road and weather conditions, volumes of traffic present and likelihood of hazards. These are all vital ingredients which drivers must factor in every time they drive. When drivers ignore these factors, even travelling below a particular speed limit, they could very easily find themselves in a potential crash scenario. A small reduction in your speed could have a massive effect on the outcome for you or others.

The maximum speed limits in Ireland (in kilometres per hour) are:

  • 30kph Areas with vulnerable road users (pedestrians, Cyclists and motorcyclists)
  • 50kph built up urban areas
  • 60kph Major approaches or through routes in cities and towns
  • 80kph Secondary or regional roads
  • 100kph National primary routes
  • 120kph Motorways

Slowing down can save lives.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

The drink driving limit in Ireland is 50mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, however for “specified drivers”, a lower limit of 20mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood applies. A “specified driver” includes learner drivers, novice drivers, professional and commercial drivers.

It is an offence to drive, attempt to drive or be in charge of a vehicle in Ireland if you don’t have proper control of the vehicle due to the consumption of alcohol or drugs. Remember it takes about 1 hour for each unit of alcohol to pass through the average person’s system. 1 unit = half a pint of beer, a small measure of spirits or a small glass of wine.

Driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) has been a statutory offence in Ireland since the introduction of the Road Traffic Act 1961. The legal definition states that a person must not be impaired (though alcohol, drugs or any combination of both) while in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle. Since 13th April 2017, An Garda Síochána has the power to test the oral fluid of drivers for the presence of Cannabis, Cocaine, Opiates (e.g. Morphine) and Benzodiazepines (e.g. Valium) at the roadside or in a Garda station. This testing will be facilitated by a Drager 5000 drug tester device.

Medical Bureau of Road Safety

The responsibility for chemical testing of intoxicants in driving in Ireland rests with the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, which is a statutory body established in November 1968.  The functions of the Bureau are laid down in the Road Traffic Acts 1968 –2016 and their regulations and they include:

  • The receipt and analysis for intoxicants of specimens of blood and urine forwarded to the Bureau.
  • The issue of certificates of analysis.
  • The provision of equipment for the taking or provision of specimens of blood and urine.
  • Approval, supply and testing of equipment or apparatus for indicating the presence of alcohol in the breath.
  • Approval, supply and testing of equipment or apparatus for determining the concentration of alcohol in the breath.
  • Approval, supply and testing of equipment or apparatus for determining the presence of drugs in Oral Fluid.
  • Research on drinking and drugs in relation to driving, including the methods of determining the amount of alcohol or drugs in a person’s body and the epidemiology of driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Frequently asked questions on the Medical Bureau of Road Safety

Belt Up Every Trip

Approximately one fifth of all vehicular fatalities had no safety belt on at the time of the collision. The use of a safety belt is the most basic form of road safety. Every occupant of a vehicle is required by law to wear a safety belt. It’s the drivers’ responsibility to ensure that persons under 17 years of age wear their safety belt. Children must be carried in the appropriate child restraint. Seat belts save lives

Mobile Phones

It is a fixed charge penalty offence to use a hand held mobile phone whilst driving. Be careful of using other electronic devices while driving – as any distraction that takes your attention from the road can be dangerous. Holding a mobile phone whilst driving is the second highest offence detected annually.


Fatigue is believed to be a factor in as many as 1 in 5 of fatal collisions in Ireland. Don’t ignore the effects of fatigue. 

  • If you feel tired take a break from driving – a nap of 15 to 20 mins can help;
  • If planning a long drive get a good night’s sleep the night before; 
  • Avoid alcohol or medicines that can cause drowsiness;
  • Consider sharing the driving.

Road Safety Unit

The Road Safety Unit's overall aim is the reduction of road deaths and serious injuries and the improvement of road safety generally. The unit was established in 2001 and is based in the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau the community including:

  • Schools and colleges
  • Youth Clubs
  • Senior Citizens
  • Local organisations
  • Industry groups

The unit’s presentation for secondary schools, It won’t happen to me, is included in the Transition Year syllabus. The unit also provides road safety information at major public exhibitions such as The Young Scientist Exhibition, Ideal Homes Exhibition, The National Ploughing Championships and a variety of car and motorcycle shows. 

Contact the Road Safety Unit at: Road Safety Unit, An Garda Síochána, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8 D08 HN3X. You can email the unit at Road_safety@garda.ie


The team on the Crimecall Programme deals with road safety topics on each monthly episode. The unit welcomes suggestions regarding topics that should be covered or enquiries relating to Road Traffic legislation and Road Safety. The Unit can be contacted at the e-mail address below or through crimecall@garda.ie  

Useful road safety websites


  • Safety Camera Network

    Let’s all work together and reduce the number of deaths on our roads. Here is further information on safety cameras and their use on Irish roads.

  • Adverse Weather Conditions

    Road safety advice for adverse weather conditions

  • Movement of abnormal loads

    Information on, and support documents for, the movement of abnormal loads

  • Traffic Watch

    A partnership bringing all road users, An Garda Síochána, the NRA and the RSA together in an effort to improve safety on our roads

  • Automatic Number Plate Recognition

    ANPR uses optical character recognition technology to automatically read vehicle registration plates and is used in patrol cars by many police forces worldwide.