The Road Traffic Acts regulate road traffic by ordinary vehicles. The principal legislation is substantial and is subject to significant amendments at regular intervals. In addition, road traffic legislation is supplemented by EU driving derived requirements implemented by regulations.
The Garda Commissioner has power to make byelaws in a range of areas under the legislation subject to confirmation by and consent of the Ministers.
There are a vast amount of regulations made under the Road Traffic Act governing the use of vehicles in public places. They include regulations regarding the vehicle itself such as construction, equipment, and lighting. In addition to the domestic regulations, EU derived legislation, provide for approved car types which effectively restrict the types of vehicles which may be used in public places.
Regulations may make requirements in relation to the type of vehicles, facilities and conditions, equipment, resources, plate display, production of licences to Garda Siochana or other officers and examination of records. Regulations have been made in relation to display of insurance disc, display of national car test certificates and a range of other matters affecting the vehicle.
The Road Traffic Act gives the Minister extensive powers to make regulations for the control of traffic and pedestrians. Regulations may deal with a range of matters. They include the following
- specifying rules of the road
- requiring traffic to proceed in a specified direction and on a specified side of the road or in the case of multi-carriageways, along a specified carriageway,
- assigning parts of the road to particular traffic, including cycles and pedestrians
- prohibiting or restricting traffic using certain roads or parts of the road including footpaths and cycleways
- prohibiting pedestrians from using specified parts of the road where there is a light railway
- specifying rights of priority for passage
- specifying courses to be taken by traffic at junctions
- regulating and controlling stopping reversing, turning and overtaking of vehicles
- prohibiting and regulating the driving of mechanically propelled vehicles and cycles in relation to animals or animal drawn traffic.
- prohibiting or regulating the driving and leading of animals
- regulating and controlling conduct of pedestrians on roads and specifying respective rights for traffic and pedestrians
- specifying rules for parking of vehicles in public place
- authorising road authorities to specify where vehicles may be parked for certain periods
- specifying where parking of vehicles may be placed or prohibited or restricted
- prohibiting or restricting loading and unloading through or across part of a public road
- requiring signals to be given by persons in charge of traffic to indicate their intentions
- control of traffic and pedestrians by member of An Garda Siochana
- control of traffic and pedestrians by traffic signs
- specifying rules for speed in specified circumstances
- control and use of stopping places and stands
- exempting classes of vehicles from provisions of the regulations
- issuing of permits by the local authority or other persons authorised by the Minister exempting a person from parking restrictions or permitting parking at certain times and locations on payment or fee
Regulations may provide for regulation of different classes of traffic, different circumstances, area and classes of roads. The making of certain of the regulations in so far as the local authority is concerned is a reserved function through the elected members.
Contravention of regulation/byelaws made as above is an offence. In the case of parking offences, the registered owner and the hirer may be prosecuted and convicted. It is an offence to show that the use was unauthorised.
Certain road traffic functions have been transferred to local authorities. See the separate sections on the road traffic functions of local authorities under the Local Government section.
Road authorities may make byelaws for the control and regulation of parking of vehicles in places specified by the byelaws. Byelaws may
- specify parking places.
- payment of parking place fees, including proof of payment, display, parking meter and other mechanisms,
- specify the fees,
- specify periods for parking without payment of fees or without payment of fees for the period concerned
- exemption of classes of vehicles and fees
- provision that the meter shall be treated as evidence until the contrary as shown
Before making the byelaws, the Road Authority is to consult the Garda Commissioner and publish prior notice inviting representations (which must make available drafts). The authority is to have regard to the observations of the Commissioner and representations made by the public.
Different byelaws may be made in respect of
- different classes of vehicles,
- different circumstances and
- different periods of time.
The making of byelaws is a function reserved to the elected members. Byelaws must be published in the manner specified. The Minister may give general guidelines to the road authorities relating to the content of byelaws. Breach of the byelaws is an offence. Where there is a contravention, the registered owner, hirer, or person who parked the vehicle or to whom it is hired, may be prosecuted. .
Byelaws may be made in much the same manner and terms as above in respect of specified events. A road authority may, in respect of events such as a sporting or entertainment event at an specified venue or venues, in the interest of safety and/or to prevent traffic congestion make byelaws restricting the parking of vehicles in specified places.
The byelaws may specify the
- event, nature and description of the event,
- the roads and areas to which it applies,
- where prohibitions or restrictions on parking applies,
- periods of prohibition and restriction and vehicles to which it applies.
Where it is proposed to exempt vehicles, the byelaws are to specify who may avail of the exemption, conditions of application, means of identification, display of identification and any applicable fees.
The broad provisions for adoption of byelaws apply, including consultation with the Garda Commissioner, publication of information, receipt of representations, etc. Breach of the byelaws is an offence. The same broad provisions as above apply.
Where there are restrictions in place, members of an Garda Siochana or traffic wardens may inspect permits to verify that they are in force and valid.