Digital signs highlight city speeding hotspots

Galway City Council has collated information from driver feedback signs since speed limits were changed across the city last year, and the data is revealing.

Of the 60 LED signs installed across Galway city, 19 transmit the speeds of passing drivers back to City Hall based on readings from radar guns housed within signage. This data informs officials on vehicle speed trends after many city centre speed limits were dropped to 30kmph last year, while limits were increased on Bothar na dTreabh, the Tuam Road, and the Quincentennial Bridge.

On the N59 Moycullen Road at Aughnacurra near Circular Road, more than 61,000 drivers of the 4.1 million who passed the digital sign there between January 2022 and August 2023 were travelling over 70kmph, despite the limit being 50 kmph. This speed sign was removed in August last year.

Similarly, northbound on the Coolough Road near Menlo Church, last year, 15 per cent of vehicles were travelling at least 20kmph faster than the 50kmph speed limit. For the first quarter of 2024, this figure has dropped marginally to at least 18kmph faster.

Fifteen percent of all records generated by signs recording eastbound traffic on the R336 Barna Road near Barna Church, and westbound near the Barna Woods Texaco station, had vehicles travelling at least 10kmph faster than the 50kmph limit. Data are similar for the speed signs on the Western Distributor Road near Drom Oir, eastbound on the Kingston Road (near Manor Drive ), and inbound at Dun na Carraig, Blackrock, Salthill.

Over the river, Sean Mulvoy Road east- and westbound, saw average speeds above the 50kmph limit throughout the year, with eastbound speeds noticeably higher.

Elsewhere, or in opposite directions on the same roads, it is a different story.

The average speeds of drivers westbound on the Barna Road near Barna Woods and again near Gentian Hill are regularly under the speed limit of 50 kmph, as are driver speeds both north- and southbound on Circular Road, and southbound on Thomas Hynes Road near Fairlands Park. The same goes for vehicles travelling east on Rockbarton North in Salthill.

East of the river, drivers heading south past Rahylin Glebe on the Ballybane Road, and southbound on Castlepark Road near the church are, on average, driving at or below the speed limit, and the same goes for the two radar guns southbound on Doughiska Road. Merlin Park Lane, behind the hospital, has the lowest recorded speeds across Galway’s Driver Feedback Sign network.

Speaking on traffic offences at last week’s Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche said a new “plain clothes” Garda vehicle with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR ) technology was increasing detections of a number of driving offences, especially drug driving and insurance issues. Driving offence detections were high during the first 15 minutes of Garda checkpoints, but then decrease as checkpoint locations are shared by Galway drivers via social media almost instantly, said Chief Supt Roche.

Chief Roche said mobile phone use amongst drivers across Galway was a “cultural issue,” and that an Garda was still waiting on statutory regulations “to come down to us” regarding rules of the road for e-scooters. Responding to questions from councillors on how gardaí might assist traffic gridlock, the city’s senior garda said he would liaise with the Roads Policing Unit about stationing static gardaí at junctions to enforce red light and yellow box infringements during rush hour.

Policing Committee chairman Níall McNelis called for better enforcement of 30kmph limits in housing estates, and that informal structures in the 1990s whereby Garda crime prevention officers had advisory input into street and pedestrian path layout when city planners were drawing up new housing schemes should be re-introduced.

“We need to design safe routes for children to walk or cycle to school along, or get to the bus stop, but we need to be careful that when improving permeability through residential neighbourhoods, we don’t accidentally engineer in crime or litter blackspots, or rat runs where reckless drivers speed through,” he said.

 

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