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Limerick Motorist Faces Question of Estimated Speed |

Limerick Motorist Faces Question of Estimated Speed

Limerick, Ireland – In a recent court session at the City Petty Sessions, Captain Arthur found himself at the centre of legal scrutiny. Constable Whelan accused him of driving his motor car at a speed exceeding the legal limit on O’Connell Street on the night of January. 31st. The Mayor, Councillor T. Ryan, presided over the proceedings, maintaining a solemn atmosphere throughout.

Constable Whelan, presenting the case, alleged that Captain Arthur had breached the speed limit and failed to have a rear light for the purpose of illuminating the number plate. According to the constable’s testimony, at approximately 8 p.m. on the specified night, he was on duty at the Crescent when he observed Captain Arthur driving at a speed he estimated to be around 35 miles per hour. The crowded street forced pedestrians to hastily retreat to the side walks for safety.

The constable further revealed that the illumination from the car’s lights made it difficult to identify the number plate as the vehicle passed. Two witnesses, William McGuire and M. Barry, supported the constable’s account, describing the car’s speed as nothing short of furious.

However, Mr Blood-Smith, the solicitor defending Captain Arthur, challenged the accuracy of estimating the car’s speed based on observation. He argued that small cars often appeared faster than they actually were, and determining the exact speed was a subjective judgment. Captain Arthur himself took the stand, asserting that he drove at the same speed every night when returning home from Limerick. He maintained that driving at the alleged speed over the street crossings in Limerick would be impossible, as his 12 H.P. car would risk overturning.

In a bid to strengthen the defence, Mr O. Goodbody, an experienced motorist, testified that, in his professional opinion, driving at 35 miles per hour over the street crossings in Limerick was implausible. He emphasized the potential risk of upsetting the car at such a high speed on the uneven terrain.

After careful consideration, the magistrates dismissed the charge of excessive driving, accepting the argument that estimating speed based on observation might be subjective and prone to error. However, they upheld the charge of not having a rear light, imposing a fine of 24 shillings and 6 pence for this violation.

The case highlights the complexities in enforcing speed limits and the challenges associated with subjective observations. While Captain Arthur emerged vindicated on the charge of excessive speed, the ruling also serves as a reminder for motorists to adhere to all necessary safety regulations, including proper lighting on their vehicles. Limerick, a city known for its rich history, continues to grapple with modern challenges, including the balance between maintaining traffic safety and the practicalities of daily commuting.

Freeman’s Journal – Saturday 17 February 1912

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