The Department of Transport in Ireland welcomes the Road Traffic and Roads Act 2023, a significant legislation aimed at making roads safer and supporting the advancement of public transportation. The Act addresses various key commitments outlined in the Programme for Government and accommodates the evolving modes of transportation preferred by individuals today. Notably, it resolves legal barriers concerning e-scooters, clarifies the status of e-bikes, legislates against the dangerous use of scramblers, and facilitates the accelerated roll-out of BusConnects.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Minister of State with special responsibility for road safety Jack Chambers express their appreciation as President Michael D. Higgins signs the Road Traffic and Roads Act 2023 into law.
This comprehensive Act modernizes Ireland’s regulatory framework, ensuring adaptability to emerging technologies. Its primary focus is improving road safety by striking a balance between the growing adoption of new forms of mobility, such as e-scooters and e-bikes, and the safety of pedestrians and pedal-bikers.
Among the Act’s notable provisions is the resolution of legal barriers pertaining to e-scooters. Currently, e-scooters are not legally permitted for use on public roads. The new legislation introduces a new vehicle category called Personal Powered Transporters (PPTs). This allows the Minister to establish regulations specifying appropriate power, speed, weight, and technical requirements for e-scooters. Until these regulations are implemented, e-scooters will remain illegal for use on public roads. Once the regulations are in place, non-compliant e-scooters will be prohibited from usage on public roads.
It is important to note that the technical regulations for e-scooters must be notified to the European Commission for review to ensure compliance with Single Market rules. This process, known as the “TRIS” process, typically takes a minimum of 12 weeks. Once the TRIS process is successfully completed, compliant e-scooters may be used on public roads, expected to occur in Q4 of 2023.
The Act also clarifies the legal position of e-bikes. Pedal-assist e-bikes with a power output of up to 250W and a motor cut-off speed of 25km/hr will continue to be classified as bicycles. Owners of these e-bikes can continue to use them on public roads and in designated lanes without the need for registration, tax, insurance, or a driver’s license. E-bikes with specifications beyond these thresholds, including higher speeds or power outputs, will be classified as e-mopeds. E-mopeds will require registration, taxation, insurance, and an AM category driver’s license to be used on Irish roads. The implementation of the new rules for e-mopeds is expected in Q1 2024.
Addressing the issue of dangerous and antisocial use of scramblers, the Act expands the offence of dangerous driving to apply to all terrains. This enables prosecution for dangerous driving regardless of the location. The Act also grants the Garda the power to seize and dispose of vehicles used dangerously, both at the scene of an offence and at the location where the vehicle is kept. The Minister will have the authority to ban certain types of vehicles, such as scramblers or quad bikes, from specific areas through regulations, allowing for flexible and evolving measures to address the issue.
The Act also introduces the concept of variable speed limits, initially on the M50 and other specific national roads. Variable speed limits are electronically displayed speed limits that can be adjusted based on conditions or safety concerns. Following the commencement of the Act, these variable speed limits will be enforceable, providing enhanced safety measures.
In terms of surveillance, the Act establishes a framework for regulated use