Metrication in Ireland

Change to kilometres on roads will be like ‘mini-euro’

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Christine Newman

The Irish Times, 7 October 2004

A changeover from miles to kilometres on roads, described by the Minister for Transport, Mr Brennan, yesterday as a “mini-euro” and a huge logistical operation, is due to be completed by next September.

The Minister was commenting on recommendations by a specialist group which was set up to review speed limits in the light of new road-safety considerations and the proposed switch to metric limits.

A spokesman for the Minister said that, after a weekend of so many road deaths, questions had been asked as to why the speed limit was to be put up in the case of motorways and dual-carriageways.

The group recommended raising the speed limit on motorways from the current 70 m.p.h. to 74.5 m.p.h., a figure which corresponds to 120 km/h. The spokesman said that the speed limit on these roads would only be put up by about four miles to round it off for metric purposes.

There were about 96,000 kilometres of roads, and of that only 6,000 were national roads i.e. motorways and dual-carriageway. The majority of all the other roads were country and local roads. Outside the motorways and dual-carriageways, the actual speed limits were coming down to 50 m.p.h.

“These are the roads where, according to studies, the most fatalities occur. Most of the really bad accidents happen there, and do not happen on motorways and dual-carriageways,” he said.

The review group was asked to look at the change from kilometres to miles, and look at how the adaptation could best be made. The group also recommended that speed limits on the State’s roads should be lowered to less than 19 miles per hour in special cases, such as outside schools.

He said the reason the changeover would take until September was that local authorities would have to review their speed signs. This was the side of the changeover that was going to take time. The local authorities were going to have to see what was needed, and then make proposals. Then the signs would have to be made.

Meanwhile, he said there would be a build-up of public information on the changeover from miles to kilometres. The Minister had called it a “mini-euro”. On one day in September the changeover would have to be completed. Logistically, it was a huge operation.