Hazzard announces further road safety improvements at rural primary schools

Date published: 16 January 2017


Infrastructure Minister, Chris Hazzard has announced a scheme aimed at introducing more part-time 20mph speed limits at rural primary schools on roads where the national speed limit applies.

DfI Minister Chris hazzard

Chris Hazzard said:

“My Department has a statutory duty to promote road safety and, within the context of the Road Safety Strategy, does this through a range of rolling educational activities, engineering and other initiatives. Children and young people are amongst the most vulnerable groups using our roads and I am committed to ensuring that they use our roads safely, both in the school vicinity and the wider community.

“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.  Whilst 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 ten 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.”

In conclusion the Minister reiterated the importance of all road users taking personal responsibility: 

“I recognise the continuing challenges of preventing road death and serious injuries and my Department will continue to address the issues using all practicable methods.  However, over 95% of crashes where someone is killed or seriously injured is due to human error, it is therefore important that we all take responsibility on the roads.  Complacency poses an enormous threat to road users – so we must not let our guard down.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. 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. The electronic signs are however expensive to provide and add an additional significant maintenance burden.  A further three schools have been treated since the pilot and these cost in the region £50,000 to install at each site.
  2. The new arrangement using fixed 'normal' signs along with flashing lights will result in better reliability on top of the reduced provision and installation costs.
  3. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office on 028 9054 0007 or e-mail: press.office@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk
  4. Out of hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.    
  5. Follow the Department on Twitter @deptinfra

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