Speed ramps – “a bloody nuisance”?

Are speed ramps “a bloody nuisance”?

It has been claimed this week that ‘Speed bumps’, which are scattered all across Ireland are costing drivers hundreds of euros in maintenance costs every year.

Many drivers are complaining that they are forking out hundreds as a result of maintenance needed after negotiating these ramps. The question must be asked, though, are speed ramps at fault or is it the driver?

Many mechanics are anecdotally revealing that a high proportion of their work in recent times are on suspension systems.

One car mechanics business in Dublin has even estimated that up to 80pc of repairs carried out in his workshop, on robust modern vehicles had damage to the suspensions.

Many motorists are complaining that they have to have a replacement of coils, springs and bushes and in the last few years, there has been an “explosion” in demand for such repairs.

Many more motorists are complaining about the cost of damage to the underside of their car. One angry driver said recently that expensive repairs were directly as a result of colliding with speed ramps, many of which, he claimed, are “too severe and of flawed design”.

His repair bill came to around €600 as he said the mechanics had to replace two coils and shock absorbers after traversing a ramp at relatively slow speed. It didn’t help that the damage was compounded by a gaping pothole beyond the speed bump.

“There are far too many speed ramps in suburban areas, particularly in housing estates. Many are poorly sited and many are too sharp and poorly marked. Many are of shoddy construction and can cause a serious road hazard,” he complained.

Another reckoned the damage by speed bumps is “greatly underestimated”.

These speed ramps are not being properly maintained and are causing damage to wheel rims and tyres as well.

A leading national motor parts distributor described these ramps as “a bloody nuisance”. They not only cause major suspension damage but the constant impacts on cars are causing the misalignment of headlights and their mountings. He said the combined cost of repairs can begin from “the €300 mark”.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that even if a motorist’s claim for damages against a local authority in such circumstances is upheld, it can be years before compensation is paid out.

Why the need for speed ramps?

According to Dublin City Council’s website, many speed ramps are requested by local residents. A spokesperson for the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said that their organisation does not have a role in the usage of speed bumps or ramps.

Something that may not first come to mind but could be another angle on the conversation but environmentalists claim speed bumps are a cause of pollution because drivers are slowing down and speeding up all the time which contributes to more pollution?

A  managing director of one of the biggest civil engineering firms in Ireland, (which it must be said, carries out major road contracts for many local authorities), disputed the claim that speed ramps are causing all the reported damage and that the evidence is “very tenuous”.

He went on to say that speed ramps are sometimes very necessary and if you drive slowly between each ramp, then there would be any additional pollution. Anyone really concerned about pollution “should walk more and make more use of public transport,” he continued.

It is true, that if we refuse to slow down sufficiently when we come up on a speed ramp we should not cause any damage. If motorists keep to the designated speed limits and slow down sufficiently they are unlikely to do damage.

Planning has improved in recent years and most new housing estates are now being designed so there are no houses fronting on to through roads which has the effect of minimising the need for speed ramps.

Criteria for the establishment of speed ramps:

  • 15pc of all vehicles travelling through the area faster than 50kmh.
  • More than 60 vehicles an hour using the road.
  • The road should have a straight run of approximately 200 metres.
  • There should be genuine concerns about safety, based, for example, on accident statistics, and confirmation by the Garda Traffic Division.
  • Schemes in older developments is prohibitive – hence the need for speed bumps in these areas.

They may be quite inconvenient to many but speed ramps are a very obvious part of the motoring landscape which we cannot avoid.  Does this mean that damage to cars is inevitable? Well, when it comes to a car a speed ramp, the speed ramp will always win, so it’s advisable then, that we slow down appropriately and by doing this we can mitigate any damage which could be caused to the vehicle.


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