120km/h

Driving in Ireland – My Impressions

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There are three kinds of roads in Ireland: “R” roads, “N” roads and “M” roads.

“R” roads are ‘Regional’ and the speed limit is 80km/h – although most are so bumpy, narrow and windy, you’d be hard pressed to reach 70km/h! These would be the equivalent of our rural back roads (but narrower and with no verge)

“N” roads are ‘National’ roads and have a 100km/h limit – these would be more like our State Highways. Again no verge and generally no passing lanes. However they are reasonably wide and have a yellow striped marking about three quarters of a lane wide on the left (both sides) where slower vehicles are expected to pull over into to let traffic past. And with few exceptions, this did occur.

“M” roads are motorways with a limit of 120km/h. And with absolutely no apologies to NZTA, these bear absolutely no resemblance to our so-called ‘motorways’. The on-ramps and off-ramps are usually kilometres apart (which is one of the reasons why the higher speed is viable), not 1.5 km apart or less. The closest we would have (I think) would be the Albany Expressway or Waikato Expressway, where, in the latter case, I think there has been talk of having higher limits…

On all roads, the limit is regularly posted and there are also many, many speed camera warning signs. Although the fitted GPS in the car sounded a wee warning when I was going over, I confess to have been driving a few (maybe 10?) kilometres over the limit on occasion. I never saw a camera, and hope I didn’t cop a ticket, but I guess I will know in the next few weeks. All in all, the traffic was a joy to drive in, heavy or not, as people seem to be less aggressive and more considerate. Although they tended not to use indicators very often…

And an observation: I suspect the number of tractors (big John Deeres, Fords and Fergs) driving on the country roads is close to 10% of total vehicles, outside the cities!!

Some of the R roads were pretty hairy – just wide enough for the car plus a bit, high hedgerows or stone fences right up to the edge of the road and poor visibility for oncoming traffic. But we made it with no dings or scratches, I’m pleased to say.

Over the distance I drove in Ireland, I think the worst driver behaviour I saw was a woman going through a roundabout a bit quick. Speed limits were mostly observed and traffic kept left.

Contrast this with the 50km drive home from Auckland Airport where I experienced tailgating, speeding (past me), slow traffic in the “fast lane” not pulling over, no headlights on (at night: several cars and one large truck) and an idiot diving from the “fast lane” across three lanes in front of a truck to get to an off-ramp.

I despair of NZ drivers!!

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