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New Irish Rules of the Road


The rules of the road are for all road users - drivers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, horse riders and cyclists. You must have a satisfactory knowledge of these rules to get a driving licence. Learning about road safety doesn't stop once you pass a driving test. It takes a lifetime.

You need to update your skills and knowledge and be aware of changes to road traffic laws. This is why you should understand and obey these rules whether you are learning to drive or have been driving for many years.

This book uses a "how to" approach and covers many of the manoeuvres identified as factors in a road crash. It uses three methods to set down clearly and concisely how the law applies to all road users.

  • It uses must and must not to draw attention to behaviour the law clearly demands or forbids.
  • It uses terms such as should and should not to tell you how best to act in a situation where no legal rule is in place.
  • It illustrates and describes traffic lights, road markings and signs provided to regulate traffic.

By knowing the rules of the road, practising good driving skills and generally taking care as a road user, you will help to play a vital role in preventing a crash. You will also be making road safety policies more effective.

The more effective the policies the greater the positive impact on you and your families' lives, as well as the lives of others.

For example, a 5km/h difference in your speed could be the difference between life and death for a vulnerable road user such as a pedestrian, where research shows that when:

Hit by a car at 60 km/h, 9 out of 10 pedestrians will be killed.

Hit by a car at 50 km/h, 5 out of 10 of pedestrians will be killed.

Hit by a car at 30 km/h, 1 out of 10 pedestrians will be killed.

To guide you when on the road, there are a number of skills expected of road users, in particular drivers: the ability to act responsibly, the ability to foresee and react to hazards, good concentration and a good level of driving expertise.

As a road user, you are also expected to have a positive and considerate attitude to each other, and in particular to vulnerable road users such as cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, children, people with disabilities and older people.

In the interest of road safety, you need to be aware of the importance of gaining a good knowledge of this book and putting that knowledge to good practice.

The overall aim of this book is to promote safety, good driving practice and courtesy in using our roads according to the law. It is an interpretation of the law from a road safety view; it is not the law. If you have a query you should check the original legislation or ask a Garda.

The booklet covers the road traffic laws currently in force, but it will be updated regularly in the future to take account of new laws.

It is worth noting that a failure on your part to observe any provision of the Rules Of The Road shall not in itself render you liable to criminal or civil proceedings, but any such failure may in any proceedings, whether civil or criminal, be relied on to establish or to eliminate a liability which is in question.

In the last 50 years the law on the use of the road has evolved and changed, and it continues to do so. At its most basic the law on the use of the road protects, and it does so by virtue of three fundamental rules:

  • always be able to stop within a distance you can see to be clear; you need to control the car or other vehicle to the extent that you can stop without causing a problem for anyone else on the roadway. The rule means you must at all times be vigilant and exercise due care and attention.
  • always drive having due regard to prevailing road conditions; this is common sense and means you must take account of the factors which will have an impact on your ability to drive safely and securely on the road, for example the weather, the type of road, the condition of the road, the time of day, the nature of the lighting.
  • always drive having due regard to other users of the road; you need to take account of all of the variables you will face in any given journey, the number of cars, the speed of the traffic, are there pedestrians, cyclists, animals, what are they doing? You cannot predict or assume you have priority; you need to make full allowance for all others on the road.

You can choose to ignore the fundamental rules but you do so at your peril as to do so could result in you breaking the criminal law and being prosecuted and in a civil claim will allow a Judge to hold you responsible.

It is in your interest to follow the fundamental principles when on the road.

Observance of these three fundamental rules will help protect and keep you, your family, friends and other users of the road, safe.

If you do not obey road traffic law, you could face a fine, penalty points and/or a conviction in court.

You might also be disqualified from driving and in some cases have to serve a prison term.

The road safety policies and laws in the country will work with the support of all road users.

Driving is a life skill that requires lifelong learning.

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