|Driving in Ireland & Traffic Laws|
Driving & Laws |
Is It Safe? |
Within the cities and towns the best and easiest
way to get around is walking. There is so much to see and
so many little side streets (many pedestrian only) that a
car is hardly worth the trouble. Even in most
neighborhoods the local shop and pub are an easy walk,
usually less than a block or two. People are very friendly
and don't mind giving you directions if you ask. One thing
to keep in mind when walking - cars drive on the left side
here therefore when you cross the street look RIGHT first.
It does take some getting used to, almost more so than
driving on the left! Luckily city officials realize
this and "Look Right" is painted on the streets as you step
off the curb.
Renting a car may only be worth the
expense if you plan on driving across country, and even
that may not be worth while as busses and trains are much
less expensive and quite comfortable. Some buses even show
movies on longer trips!
If you do choose to drive keep in mind that many Irish
roads are very narrow and courtesy is a must. When going
up a fairly narrow, steep road with cars parked on either
side and a city bus coming at you it can get sticky! In
general drivers are used to give and take in these
situation, and at times innovative to say the least.
A note for American drivers in paticular - if someone
flashes their lights at you it is not to warn you of police
radar ahead! They are giving you the right of way.
Public transportation is very convienient and affordable.
City busses cover wide areas and in Cork, for instance, bus
fare is only 70 pence per person. Busses run frequently,
beginning at 7 am until 11 pm, and bus stops are numerous.
You can call a taxi to pick you up where ever you are or
catch one in town. Fares are reasonable and taxi drivers
are very helpful, good guides for the most part and do not
try to take advantage of you and your lack of knowledge of
the area. Some taxi's do charge a small extra fee for
baggage or extra passengers but it is not at all
Holders of a driving licence issued by any of the
countries listed below may exchange it for an Irish licence
for the same vehicle classes upon taking up permanent
residence in Ireland, without having to sit a driving test:
Isle of Man
Holders of a driving licence from any other country must
pass a driving test before an Irish licence can be granted.
Before undergoing this test a provisional licence may be
obtained from the appropriate regional licensing authority.
A temporary visitor to Ireland may legally drive here
providing he or she holds a valid licence issued in his or
her country of residence or an international driving permit.
that the holder of a licence for a vehicle with
automatic transmission, for example the majority of American
cars, may only drive automatic cars in Ireland.
The Irish driving test, administered by the Department of
the Environment, consists of a short oral examination on the
rules of the road plus a short (less than 1 hour) road test,
which includes hill starts, reversing around corners, and a
Full details of the test and the licence, together with
application forms, may be obtained from:
Department of the Environment (Driver Testing)
Ballina, Co. Mayo,
Freeways/Motorways 112 kph (80kph towing)
Regular non-urban roads 100 kph (80kph towing)
Urban areas 48/50 kph
Caution should be exercised when driving under the
influence of alcohol. The legal tolerance limit is 0.08%.
Wearing of seat belts is compulsory in front and rear
Children under 12 years age not permitted in front seats.
It is recommended to carry breakdown warning triangle,
first aid kit, fire extinguisher and spare bulb kit in
vehicle. If you wear glasses, bring a spare pair in the car
Minimum Driving age: 17 years.
Documents required when driving
Valid drivers license
Vehicle title document/registration certificate or vehicle
Insurance green card (not obligatory for vehicles
registered in IRL or another EU state)
National vehicle oval country of registration plate (not
required for vehicles fitted with EU standard format
Drive on the left and vehicle headlights should be focused
Avoid accidents at traffic signals by not braking suddenly
when the lights turn to amber. This note particularly
applies to drivers
from GB who frequently create accident situations for
themselves by not adopting to the driving style of the
country they are driving in.
Traffic coming from the right-hand side has precedence on
roundabouts (traffic rotaries)
Direction Sign Colo(u)rs
Freeways/Motorways = Blue
National Primary & Secondary routes = Green
Regional and local routes = White
Tolls are payable at two points in the Dublin area - M50
Ring Road between the N4 and N3 interchanges only and on
the R131 East Link Bridge. In each case the toll is under
IEP 1.00 for cars, with higher tolls for vans and trucks.
There are no tolls on other motorways or national routes.
Automobile club breakdown services
Tel 1-800 66 77 88 (0800 88 77 66 in NI)
Tel 1-800 53 50 05 (0800 82 82 82 in NI)
Tips for North Americans driving in Ireland for the first time -
Driving styles and
regulations differ in every country. It usually takes
between a few hours and a day to get used to a new driving
environment, particularly if you have not driven in the
If you are used to an automatic, be sure to specify
automatic when making your reservation. Most cars in Ireland are standards
and that is what you will be given if you do not ask.
When you drive the car for the first time, take it around
the block at the airport a few times to get used
to the controls and driving on the left-hand side of the
Try and avoid the narrower R roads for the first day or so
until you are familiar with your car and the driving
Take your time - drive slowly at first until you gain
confidence. Watch the signs carefully!
If you cross the road to park or to visit a gas station, be
sure to return to a driving position on the left-hand side
after you exit the parking space!