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Irish Government to bring in minimum passing distance law

"We are going to go the extra mile in the pursuit of saving lives," says transport minister Shane Ross...

Ireland’s transport minister has said that the government in Dublin will make a 1.5 metre minimum passing distance law on roads with a speed limit of more than 50 kilometres an hour.

On roads with speed limits of 50 kilometres an hour or less, a minimum passing distance of 1 metre will apply, reports StickyBottle.com.

The announcement by Shane Ross today follows lobbying by campaign groups including Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 for the legislation to be brought in.

It comes after a rise in the number of cyclists killed in the country with 15 people losing their lives last year, up 50 per cent from 2016.

“Clearly this is an intolerable situation which has to change,” Ross said. “Every life lost on our roads is a tragedy. And as Minister for Transport, I am committed to do everything within my power to prevent preventable road deaths.”

He continued: “If such awareness entails safer driving and fewer fatalities then it will be worth introducing the necessary legislation.”

According to StickyBottle.com, drivers breaking the law will face fines and have their driving licences endorsed with penalty points, and the legislation will be accompanied by an enforcement campaign by the Garda.

Ross’s announcement comes on a day when the country’s Road Safety Authority published a report recommending that instead of legislation being brought in, it was preferable to educate drivers about the need to pass cyclists safely.

The minister disagreed, however, saying: “It is not enough for me to say we simply just have an education campaign, my job is to introduce law and to make law.

“It is going to be done in the correct way by secondary legislation. We are going to go the extra mile in the pursuit of saving lives.”

He added: “We need more cyclists, we need less cars … If we make the roads a safer place there are likely to be more people getting out of their cars.”

While no timetable has been set for the law to be brought in, Ross said that the process of enacting the legislation would start straight away.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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