Road Safety News

Part-time 20mph school scheme to be extended

Thursday 19th January 2017

More part-time 20mph speed limits are to be introduced in Northern Ireland, at rural primary schools on roads where the national speed limit applies, following a pilot scheme.

The use of part-time 20mph speed limits at schools was initially piloted at three schools. These pilots used electronic signs to display the reduced speed limit.

However, the Department of Infrastructure (DfI) in Northern Ireland says the electronic signs are ‘expensive to provide and add an additional significant maintenance burden’. 

To overcome this, a new arrangement using fixed ‘normal’ signs along with flashing lights has been introduced, which delivers ‘better reliability on top of the reduced provision and installation costs’.

The DfI says a further three schools have been treated with this new approach since the pilot, with each site costing in the region of £50,000. The system will now be rolled out across a further 10 schools, and if successful will then be extended to cover all of Northern Ireland’s rural primary schools.

Chris Hazzard, Northern Ireland’s roads minister, said: “A recent innovation has been the development of part-time 20mph speed limits at schools, especially those on roads where the national speed limit applies.

“The speed limit at these schools is reduced to 20mph at opening and closing times during term times. While I am keen on this approach, the initial schemes which use highly complex electronic signs are expensive to provide and maintain.

“I believe that we can achieve the same safety benefits at schools using a simpler and more reliable arrangement of signs and asked my officials to investigate alternative and more cost effective signing arrangements to provide part time enforceable 20mph speed limits at schools. A more cost effective approach would allow more schools to be treated.

“I am pleased to say that we have now identified an alternative signing arrangement that uses standard fixed speed limit roundel signs along with flashing lights which can be set to come on at the times the reduced speed limit applies.

“I am now going to test the alternative signing arrangements at 10 schools. This test will allow my Department to assess the effectiveness of the new arrangement against the existing systems and should also pick up any unforeseen issues. 

“A decision can then be taken whether there should be a comprehensive programme of part-time speed limits rolled out at all rural primary schools.”

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Durham County Council set to double 20mph schools
10 May 2016




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I notice that there are no waiting/stopping signs painted on the road up ahead and I presume that is where the school is. Would be beneficial to include the word SCHOOL actually on the sign or close to it, then drivers would know why the restriction is signed.

I always believed that NI is a member of Great Britain but has its own legislature. Many new initiatives are tried out there before coming over here for our usage.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

NI isn't in GB, and has different legislation. Scottish and English legislation is also different and Scotland has had many enforceable part-time 20mph limits for many years. Most have a 20 roundel with plate saying "when lights flash" (and lights which flash at times!).

If enough drivers had slowed down enough for the previous school warning signs and flashing lights ( then an enforceable limit may not have been needed. If the limits are enforced than I'd expect drivers to learn to comply with the law.
David S, Scotland

Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

Do the pupils live a walkable distance from these rural schools? If so, what road safety improvements are being made on the rest of their journey/route? No point in treating the road outside the school in isolation. If the school location is too far to walk and everyone is bussed in or comes by car, why bother at all?
Pat, Wales

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

One other, but quite important point - if the road shown in the 'photo is typical of where these occasional 20s will be, then unfortunately I would have to predict even less compliance than if they were in residential areas for which they are far more appropriate. A vehicle activated flashing 'SCHOOL' warning sign might have been more appropriate on such roads.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

I wasn't aware that the standard prescribed speed limit roundel could be rendered valid or invalid simply by the presence (or not) of flashing lights. Is it different in NI?
The wording of the TRO would have to be pretty water-tight and the concept of such signing could lead to some interesting defences to any prosecutions.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

I dont think that anyone is going to complain if such signage was introduced around schools, hospitals, parks etc. Just wonder though as to whether their was justification for such signage due to incidents. I can only presume that there was otherwise this would be a mere exercise with no quantifiable improvement in results. I trust there are some statistics that one can call the base line over the last few years and compare that with the next few years to see if there are any reductions taking place. We must wait and see.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (6) | Disagree (4)