The AA has warned that the lower limit should only be introduced where neccesary
Local authorities are being urged to reduce the speed limit to 30kph in certain areas in an effort to save lives.
Campaigners have warned Ireland is falling behind Europe in setting 30 kph zones in towns and cities around the country.
Meanwhile recent research by the RSA found that almost six-in-10 drivers break the speed limit in urban areas.
Speaking at the RSA Annual Academic Road Safety Lecture, Dublin City Council engineer Dermot Stevenson said that 50% of people survive collisions at 50kph – adding that when speed drops to 30kph, 90% of people survive.
While the 30 kph limit has been extended in Dublin, 50kph is still the default limit in the rest of the country.
RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock said the lower limit is far safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
She warned however, that there appears to be a reluctance among town and city councils to lower the limit.
“I think there is a fear that it is going to be negatively received by the motoring community,” she said.
“It is a bit like the smoking ban – a lot of people were afraid of the unknown and what it might do.
“That is might create congestion; that it might slow people’s journey times down - but really that is a fallacy; that is not what happens.”
However, Conor Faughnan, director of consumer affairs with the AA warned that the 30kph zones should only be introduced in appropriate areas:
“If you want to use it in places like housing estates and in the vicinity of schools etc – design it properly so that the natural flow of traffic is no faster than 30kph,” he said.
“The worst thing you can do is take a road that was engineered to carry 60kph and has no particular road safety issue or no particular problem and just change the number from 60 to 30.
“That is actually daft and all it achieves is it undermines respect for speed limits generally.”
Ms Murdock said the onus is on drivers to slow down – with recent RSA research finding significant numbers of drivers speeding in urban areas:
“It was shocking what we saw,” she said.
“55% of heavy goods vehicles in urban areas were observed to be breaking the speed limit.”
“[What was] really worrying, the double-decker buses that were observed – 38% of them.
“And in general, motorists themselves in private cars – 57%.
“Speed kills and it is just too dangerous in urban areas to be speeding in those locations.”
A total of 117 have been killed n Irish roads this year.
More information on Irish Road Safety Week can be found here.