Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
Motorists drive on the left side of the road in Ireland, and road conditions can differ significantly from those in the United States. If you do not have experience driving on the left, you should be especially cautious as tourists driving on the incorrect side of the road are the cause of several serious accidents each year. Most intersections in Ireland use circular “roundabouts” instead of signals, and it is important that motorists pay close attention to signs and yield the right of way to those already in the roundabout. At signals, turning on a red light is illegal; you must wait for either a full green (any direction turn permitted) or directional green light (which could be straight, left, or right) before proceeding with caution. Most rental cars in Ireland have manual transmission; it can be difficult to find automatic transmission rental cars.
Road conditions are generally good, but once you exit the main highways, country roads are likely to be narrow, uneven, and winding. Roads are more dangerous during the summer and on holiday weekends due to increased traffic. Police periodically set up road blocks to check for drunk drivers. Penalties for driving under the influence can be severe.
You may use your existing U.S. driving license in Ireland for a temporary stay; this can be for any period of time up to a maximum of one year. Some insurance and car rental companies may request an International Driving Permit in addition to your existing driving license. If you wish to apply for an International Driving Permit, please contact the American Automobile Association. You are required to apply for an Irish driving license if you become a resident of Ireland.
More information on driving in Ireland can be found on U.S. Embassy Dublin’s website. For specific information concerning Irish driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please visit the official tourism guide for Ireland.
Taxi rates vary with time of day and location. Ask your hotel or innkeeper for the number of a call-dispatched taxi service if you plan to be out during less busy times. Bus service in the cities is generally adequate, although many buses are crowded and they frequently run late. Pay close attention to where bus stops are in both directions, as the drop-off and pick-up locations could be several blocks away from each other. Intercity bus and train services are generally good.
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