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.”