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Rules

Good Driving Practice

Irish Rules of the Road Irish Rules of the Road

Rules of the Road (PDF, 5MB)

Irish Rules of the Road

 

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The rules of the road are for all road users - drivers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, horse riders and cyclists.

You must have a satisfactory knowledge of these rules to get a driving licence, but learning about road safety doesn't stop once you pass a driving test. It takes a lifetime.

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Moving Off

Irish Rules of the Road

Before you turn on your engine, check that:

When you are ready to move off, signal your intention to move out into traffic.

Your position on the road

Irish Rules of the Road

Make sure you drive your vehicle far enough to the left to allow traffic to safely pass or overtake on the right but not so far to the left that you are driving on a cycle lane or blocking or endangering cyclists or pedestrians.

What to do if you need to change your position

If you are overtaking, turning right or passing pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders or other road users or parked vehicles, make sure it is safe to do so.

Always check in your mirror for any vehicles coming up on your right or overtaking from behind, and don't forget to check your blind spots.

Give a clear signal to warn traffic in good time of your intentions and proceed.

You should allow signalling buses back into the stream of traffic after they let passengers on and off. Be especially careful of pedestrians getting on and off buses and of children near schools, and when near schools always be prepared to stop.

Irish Rules of the Road

If you are at a junction where there is an advanced stop line for cyclists, you should allow cyclists to move off ahead of you.

When turning left, all drivers, especially drivers of heavy goods vehicles, must watch out for cyclists and motorcyclists going ahead or turning.

On left turns, watch out for cyclists and mopeds close to the kerb in front of you or coming up on your left. Do not overtake a cyclist as you approach a junction if you are turning left; the cyclist might be continuing straight ahead.

You should give extra space when overtaking a cyclist, as they may need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles. This is particularly important on wet or windy days.

Changing traffic lanes

' Irish Rules of the Road

Don't move from one traffic lane to another without good reason.

You must give way to traffic already in the lane into which you are moving.

How to change lanes safely

' Irish Rules of the Road

If you have good reason to change lanes, use your mirrors and check in plenty of time to ensure that the way is clear. To check your blind spot when travelling at speed, take a quick sideways glance to check the position of a vehicle that may have disappeared from your view in the mirror.

You must give way to traffic already in the lane into which you are moving.

Signal your intention and change lane when it is clear and safe to do so.

When in a lane or approaching a junction, obey any road signs or markings (usually arrows) indicating the direction that traffic in those lanes must take.

Overtaking

Only overtake if it is safe for you and other traffic.
Be particularly careful of features that may hinder your view of the road ahead, such as hills, dips, bends, bridges, roads narrowing or pedestrian crossings.
Pay attention to the rules on road signs or markings (continuous, broken, single, double white lines) covered in Section 6.

How to overtake safely

Make sure the road ahead is clear so you have enough distance to allow you to overtake and get back to your own side of the road without forcing any other road user to move to avoid you.

Never directly follow another overtaking vehicle.

Give way to faster traffic already overtaking from behind.

Before overtaking check that the way is clear, check in your mirror and blind spots to ensure another vehicle is not approaching from behind. Give your signal in good time, move out when it is safe to do so, accelerate and overtake with the minimum of delay.

Before overtaking check that the way is clear, check in your mirror and blind spots to ensure another vehicle is not approaching from behind. Give your signal in good time, move out when it is safe to do so, accelerate and overtake with the minimum of delay.

Take extra care when overtaking a vehicle displaying a 'LONG VEHICLE' sign. This means that the vehicle is at least 13 metres long and you will need extra road length to pass it and safely return to the left-hand side of the road.

You must not break the speed limit, even when overtaking.

What to do when somebody overtakes you Continue at the same pace.

Irish Rules of the Road

What to do when somebody overtakes you Continue at the same pace.

Keep as near to the left as is safe to do so.

Do not accelerate.

Be alert in case the overtaking vehicle suddenly pulls back in front of you

Reversing

How to reverse safely

Check for nearby pedestrians and traffic by looking carefully all around, in front of and behind you, over both your shoulders and in your mirrors.

Take special care where small children may be gathered, such as schools, playgrounds, residential roads, car parks or your own driveway.

If your view is restricted, ask for help when reversing.

Give way to other traffic or pedestrians.

When reversing from a major road onto a minor road, wait until it is safe, reverse slowly far enough into the side road to allow you to take up the correct position on the left-hand side when rejoining the major road.

Take extra care when reversing in darkness.

If you are in doubt get out of your vehicle and check the area.

You must not reverse from a minor road onto a major road as it is unsafe to do so.

U-turns

You should make a U-turn only when traffic conditions make it completely safe to do so.

Check there are no signs or road markings prohibiting a U-turn, for example a continuous centre white line.

Check that the road is not one way.

Look for a safe place, where you can see clearly in all directions.

Give way to all other road users.

Check carefully for cyclists and motorcyclists.

Do not delay or prevent pedestrians from crossing safely.

Make sure there is sufficient room to complete your manoeuvre safely and smoothly.

Irish Rules of the Road

No U-turn

 

Irish Rules of the Road

Slowing down or stopping at the side of a road Check in your mirror to make sure you can slow down and stop safely.

Signal your intention to change course and pull in.

Signal your intention to slow down either through the brake lights or by moving your right arm up and down outside your vehicle window (shown below) if you think your brake lights might not be working.

Use a traffic lay-by if one is provided or pull in and stop close to the left hand edge of the road.

Driving at night

Make sure your lights, indicators, reflectors and number plate lighting are clean and in good working order so that you can see clearly and be seen at all times. A clean windscreen is also important when driving at night.

Drive at a speed that allows you to stop within the distance covered by your lights. Assuming good driving conditions on an unlit road, the headlights of a typical car let you see for about 100 metres. Dipped lights will let you see for about 30 metres and a car travelling at 100km/h will cover this distance in approximately a second.

Keep your headlights adjusted properly. If they are out of line, they may dazzle oncoming traffic, even when dipped.

Even with the best headlights, you can see less at night than during the day. Pedestrians and unlit bicycles are extremely difficult to see in the dark, particularly if you have to deal with the glare of oncoming lights.

When to use headlights

Irish Rules of the Road

If conditions require you to use headlights to drive safely, you must use them. Use dipped headlights at night or main beam headlights as appropriate. When in doubt, turn them on. Make sure that the red lights and number plate lighting at the back of your vehicle are working.

Use dipped headlights:

Just after the beginning (dusk) and before the end (dawn) of lighting up hours, as long as they are needed to let you see clearly, when stopped in traffic, when meeting other traffic, in built-up areas where there is good street lighting, on continuously lit roads outside built-up areas, when following behind another vehicle, where there is dense fog, falling snow or heavy rain, when daylight is fading, and generally to avoid inconveniencing other traffic.

It is good practice to use dipped headlights or dim/dip lights, where fitted, instead of only sidelights in built-up areas where there is good street lighting.

Irish Rules of the Road

Use main beam headlights in situations, places and times outside of those listed above.

Use fog lights only during dense fog and falling snow. You must turn them off at all other times.

What to do if you are dazzled by another vehicle's headlights Slow down and stop if necessary.

Always watch for pedestrians or cyclists on your side of the road.

If the dazzle is from an oncoming vehicle, avoid it by looking towards the verge (edge of your side of the road) until the vehicle has passed. If the dazzle is from a vehicle behind you and reflected in your mirror, operate the night-driving mode on the mirror.

Using a horn

Only use a horn to:
warn other road users of on-coming danger, or
make them aware of your presence for safety reasons when reasonably necessary.
Remember, the horn does not give you the right of way.
Do not use a horn in a built-up area between 23.30hrs and 07.00hrs unless there is a traffic emergency.

Junctions and Roundabouts

Junctions

If you see a 'Stop' sign (shown below), you must stop at the sign or at the stop line on the road, if provided, even if there is no traffic on the road you would like to enter.

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If you see a 'Yield' sign or yield line (shown below), you must slow down, but you do not have to stop completely unless you need to wait for any oncoming traffic to pass.

Irish Rules of the Road
 

Section 6 more information on these and other regulatory signs.

Right of way

Traffic travelling straight ahead in either direction along a major road has right of way at all times.

If you are at a junction where the roads are of equal importance, the traffic on your right has right of way. You must let that traffic pass before moving on. It is important to understand that the right of way is not an absolute right. You must proceed with caution while showing regard for other users of the road.

If you are approaching a T junction, the traffic already on the road you are joining has right of way. This means any traffic on the road ending at the junction must wait for the other traffic to pass before turning left or right.

If you are turning right at a junction, the traffic coming straight through the junction from the opposite direction has right of way.

If you plan to turn right at a junction and a vehicle from the opposite direction wants to turn into the same road, the vehicle that is turning left has right of way. If yours is the vehicle turning right, you must wait for the other vehicle to turn first.

If you are approaching a junction with a major road, you must yield to other traffic. This means giving right of way or letting them pass before you enter the road you are joining.

Vehicles do not have an automatic right of way on the road. The overriding rule is, in all circumstances, proceed with caution.

You must always yield to:

pedestrians already crossing at a junction, pedestrians on a zebra crossing, pedestrians on a pelican crossing when the amber light is flashing, and pedestrians and traffic when you are moving off from a stationary position (for example from your position at a stop sign or a parking space).
To avoid doubt and in the interest of road safety a vehicle should always yield to pedestrians.

You must also yield to:

traffic already turning at a junction, traffic in another lane when you wish to change lanes, and traffic on a public road when you are coming out of a private entrance. Stop, look, listen, and look again. This is your duty when entering the roadway.

Motorists should watch for cyclists emerging from the end of a cycle track and mopeds and motorcycles emerging from junctions who might be difficult to see because of their small size.

It is important to understand that the right of way is not an absolute right of way. You must proceed with caution, having regard for other road users.

You must always yield to:

Turning right from a major road onto a minor road

Irish Rules of the Road

Check your mirrors and blind spots well in advance for traffic following behind you and give a right turn signal. As soon as you can do so safely, take up a position just left of the middle of the road or in the space provided for right-turning traffic.
Where possible, leave room for other vehicles to pass on the left.
Do not turn the steering wheel until you are ready to make the turn.
When a safe gap occurs in oncoming traffic, finish your turn so that you enter the left-hand side of the road into which you are turning.
Do not cut the corner when you turn. Do not make a "swan neck" by passing the correct turning point and then having to turn back into the road you want to enter.

Turning right from a minor road onto a major road

Irish Rules of the Road

Check your mirrors well in advance for traffic following behind you and give a right turn signal.

As soon as you can do so safely, take up a position just left of the middle of the road.

If you are at a junction controlled by a Stop or a Yield sign, wait at the entrance to the junction until the road is clear in both directions.

Where possible, leave room for other vehicles to pass on the left.

When a safe gap occurs in traffic coming from both directions finish your turn so that you enter the left-hand side of the road onto which you are turning.

Be alert for road markings which direct you to follow a certain course.

Turning right at a crossroads

Irish Rules of the Road

Turning back to back

Turning right at a crossroads

Irish Rules of the Road

If you cannot do this, you may turn near-side to near-side if necessary. This means starting the turn while the vehicles are still facing each other.

 

Turning near side to near side

Turning right from a one-way street

Drive as close as you safely can to the right-hand side of the one-way street. Look out for areas where two lanes may be allowed for turning right.

Turning left from a major road to a minor road

Check your mirrors well in advance for traffic following behind you.

Give a left-turn signal and slow down.

Keep as close as you safely can to the left-hand edge of the road, using your mirrors to watch for cyclists or motorcyclists coming up on your left.

Watch for flashing amber arrows that allow you to proceed to the left if no traffic is approaching from the right.

Where possible, leave room for other vehicles to pass on the right.

Make the turn, keeping close to the left-hand edge. Do not hit or mount the kerb.

Turning left from a minor road to a major road

Irish Rules of the Road

Check your mirrors well in advance for traffic following behind you.

Give a left turn signal and slow down.

If you are at a junction controlled by a Stop or a Yield sign, wait at the entrance to the junction until the road is clear.

Watch for flashing amber arrows that allow you to proceed to the left if no traffic is approaching from the right.

If a left-turn slip lane is provided, you should use it.

When it is safe, finish your turn so that you enter the left-hand side of the road onto which you are turning.

Take care not to swing wide when you turn and always give way to pedestrians and cyclists crossing the junction before you start any turn.

REMEMBER

Irish Rules of the Road

You must not enter the yellow box junction unless you can clear it without stopping.

 

Irish Rules of the Road

An exception is when you want to turn right. In this case, you may enter the yellow box junction while waiting for a gap in traffic coming from the opposite direction. However, don't enter the box if to do so would block other traffic that has the right of way.

 

Yellow box junctions can also be found at railway level crossings or tramway crossings. Never enter these yellow box junctions unless you can leave them without stopping.

Roundabouts

By law, a driver must enter a roundabout by turning to the left. Treat the roundabout as a junction and give right-of-way to traffic already on it.

Approaching a roundabout

Decide as early as possible which exit you need to take.
Take note of and act on all the information available to you from traffic signs, traffic lights and road markings that direct you into the correct lane.

Remember, "mirror, signal, mirror, manoeuvre" at all stages. First use your mirrors to check for any traffic following behind you and, where necessary, signal your intentions in good time to give other road users appropriate warnings.

Get into the correct lane when it is safe to do so.

Be aware of the speed and position of all traffic around you and adjust your speed to fit in with traffic conditions.

Follow the correct procedure and instructions when approaching and driving on roundabouts.

When you reach the roundabout

Give way to traffic approaching from your right, unless signs, road markings or traffic lights tell you otherwise. Where traffic lights control the roundabout, you must obey them.
You must obey any road markings on the lanes and/or other instructions to show what lane to use if you intend to take a particular exit from the roundabout.
Pay attention to vehicles already on the roundabout. In particular, be aware of their signals and try to judge where they plan to exit.
Watch out for other users of the road and be aware of any cyclists or motorcyclists on your left or right.
Look forward before moving on to make sure that traffic in front of you on the roundabout has moved off. This means that you will be able to move on to the roundabout without blocking any traffic coming from your right.

On or leaving the roundabout

Unless road signs or road markings indicate otherwise, follow the steps below, when taking the first exit, going straight ahead or taking later exits off a roundabout.

Irish Rules of the Road

Making a left Turn:
Signal left and approach in the left-hand lane.
Keep to the left on the roundabout and continue signalling left to leave.

 

Making a Left Turn

Stay in the left-hand lane, indicate "left" as you approach and continue to indicate until you have passed through the roundabout.

Irish Rules of the Road

Going straight ahead;
Approach in the left-hand lane but do not signal yet.
Signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want.
You may follow the course shown in the illustration by the broken red line in situations where: the left-hand lane is only for turning left or is blocked or closed, or when directed by a Garda.

 

Going Straight Ahead

Irish Rules of the Road

Taking any later exits;
Signal right and approach in the right-hand lane.
Keep to the right on the roundabout until you need to change lanes to exit the roundabout.
Check your mirrors, signal left and proceed to your exit when it is safe to do so.
Signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want to take.

Stay in the right-hand lane, indicate right on your approach and maintain this signal until you have passed the exit before the one you intend to take. Then change to the "left" turn indicator.

When there are more than three lanes at the entrance to a roundabout, use the most appropriate lane on approach and through it.

Sometimes a roundabout exit with two or more lanes may narrow into one lane over a short distance. Drivers in the lane which is terminated should yield to traffic in the other lane.

Drivers should make themselves aware of the road markings and get into the appropriate lane when safe to do so, remembering to show consideration to other users of the road and in the interest of road safety, yield when necessary.

In all cases watch out for and give plenty of room to:

pedestrians who may be crossing the approach and exit roads,
traffic crossing in front of you on the roundabout, especially vehicles intending to leave by the next exit,
traffic that may be straddling lanes or positioned incorrectly,
motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders who may stay in the left-hand lane and signal right if they intend to continue round the roundabout,
long vehicles (including those towing trailers), which might have to take a different course approaching or on the roundabout because of their length. Watch out for their signals.

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