Americans who rent a car in Ireland should be aware of some basic facts. (Other non-Irish please take note also. Some of this article will not apply to drivers who come from left driving countries like the UK)
There is a good network of roads throughout the county. The major motorway are marked M on maps and have blue signage.
The next size including dual carriageways are marked N and have green signage. Lesser roads, which are often the most scenic are narrower and are often marked R on maps.
Driving on the Left
Driving is on the left side of the road (The opposite to the USA) so it takes a little getting used to. Also be aware that road markings. centre lines etc are different to what you are accustomed to.
Motorway: Max 120km per hour. Lesser roads Max 100km per hour. Smaller roads 80km per hour. Through towns and villages limits are reduced to 50 or 60 km per hour.
Speed limits on all roads are well signposted and should be adhered to strictly both for safety and to avoid fines/penalty points. Gardaí are vigilant and fixed and mobile speed cameras are in operation.
You need to get used to turning left on to a roundabout. This is probably the trickiest manouevre you will encounter but you will get used to it quickly.
Here is a useful video about driving in Ireland from an American perspective (courtesy of LoveIreland)
Driving and Alcohol
As of Friday 26 October 2018, fully licenced drivers detected by Gardaí (police) with a blood alcohol concentration level of between 50mg and 80mg, will receive an automatic disqualification from driving of three months and a €200 fine.
There are regular roadside breath tests all over Ireland. Please note that drivers who are found to be driving while over the limit are likely to be arrested.
These limits are quite low and the best advice is “Don’t drink at all if you are driving”
The vast majority of cars in Ireland are stick shift. All car hire companies will have a supply of automatic gear shift cars but in the event that you find that there are none left you will have to go with stick shift.
For lots of useful information about driving in Ireland visit the Road Safety Authority website.
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