How signage can improve road safety surrounding UK schools
Despite the UK having some of the safest roads in the world, the journeys to and from school are, for the most part, particularly vulnerable journeys for school children, especially for those who participate in active travel such as walking and cycling.
In the year ending June 2019, there were 5,310 child pedestrian casualties alone, with 24% of these leading to death or serious injuries.
For many children, one of the key safety risks throughout their day is the roads in the immediate vicinity of the school gates. In these areas, parking regulations and speed limits are often ignored or inadequately enforced. And this, coupled with a high density of students, staff, and parents congregating, especially at peak drop off and pick up times, substantially increases the risk of accidents occurring.
Such heightened risk has been highlighted in a Public Health England report, which cited that in 2016, 35% of children were killed or seriously injured during what is typically classified as the ‘school run’.
Despite these heavily apparent dangers, the chances of an accident occurring, and the severity of injuries sustained when they do occur can be substantially reduced through improvements to signage and road safety design.
What impact does the implementation of road safety signage have on safety in school zones?
School signage can make a considerable difference to road safety around schools. It does this through helping to draw attention to the specific hazards within an area, reducing the likelihood of speeding, and enhancing the road safety.
Installing signage that reiterates the speed limits around schools helps to reduce speeding within that area. This is important as the slower a car is travelling, the less likely it is that there will be a fatality if the vehicle strikes a pedestrian.
This correlation has been established through several studies, for instance this analysis of vehicle speed in pedestrian fatalities in Great Britain found that 85% of pedestrians killed when strook by cars or car-derived vans died at impact speeds below 40mph, 45% at less than 30mph and 5% at speeds below 20mph.
Encouraging a shift towards more sustainable transport options
Another benefit to be had from the implementation of road signage is a shift towards sustainable transport options.
It is widely known that pedestrians and cyclists are particularly vulnerable road users. Of the 21,930 people killed or seriously injured on British roads in 2019 37% of these road users were people walking or riding bikes, despite these road users making up just 4% of the distance travelled (HSE, 2020).
The heightened vulnerability of these road user groups is a key hinderance to the uptake in sustainable travel, with this being highlighted in Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s latest walking and cycling investment plan.
Despite this, measures such as the implementation of road signage have been found to make journeys safer for these particular road user groups, in turn increasing the adoption of sustainable transport.
Air quality improvements
Another reason for the heightened pedestrian vulnerability outside schools is air pollution, with high NO2 emission volumes frequently recorded at school drop off and pick up times as a result of car idling. With air pollution leading to the premature deaths of at least 40,000 people per year alone, and found to be a major risk factor for childhood asthma, this is clearly a particularly pertinent issue that requires addressing.
This can be improved through creating access restrictions around schools, enforced through the installation of flashing LED School Plate Signs. Such improvements have been demonstrated through the Edinburgh Council school streets pilot project, which recorded a reduction in Nitrogen Dioxide emissions on all roads with access restrictions outside of schools. This was then reported to improve the perception of child safety, as reflected in the increase in the number of pupils walking to and from school.
What are the different road safety signs that you should expect to see in school zones?
There are a number of road safety signs that are commonly used within school zones to help enhance child safety.
Part time speed sign with corner clusters
Part-time speed limit enforcement signs are used to reiterate the speed limit within an area outside of a school at certain times in the day. This can be pre-programmed to be in school term every weekday in school drop-off and pick up times.
It must be noted, however, that the speed limits (usually 20mph) indicated on these signs, are in some cases, advisory notices rather than indicating the mandatory speed limit. This is unless the area has a 20mph speed limit.
LED Twin and Amber Flasher
The Twin Amber Flasher Signs consist of two LED amber flashing warning lights and are ideal for school applications. They are installed outside of schools, making it clear to drivers that they are entering an area where there is likely to be children, indicating them to slow down.
How do you know when a speed limit is mandatory or advised?
The Highway code states that signs that give orders (i.e., laws) are in circles. Red circles indicate something you must not legally do, and blue circles indicate something that you must legally do.
Therefore, if the speed limit is not mandatory (i.e., advice and not the law), the sign will not contain a red circle.
School street signs
School street signs, or safer route to school street signs, are used to to make drivers aware of parking and idling restrictions through flashing during school-specific operating periods. They are used to reduce the amount of traffic on streets outside school entrances at the beginning of the school day to help create more attractive conditions for children to walk or cycle.
At TWM we have experience in helping to deliver School Street schemes and pedestrian zones which can be integrated with additional safety measures and air quality monitoring. One example is the Edinburgh School Streets pilot project evaluation where we successfully designed, manufactured and installed bespoke safer route to school signs at 9 schools in Edinburgh, as per the City of Edinburgh Council and Transport Scotland regulations.
Speed display signs
Speed display signs, such as the Mini 300 sign from TWM, display vehicle speeds as motorists’ approach. This can be placed outside or on roads near schools to slow down cars through making drivers aware if they are exceeding the speed limits.
Why is TWM the ideal partner for your school signage needs?
TWM has designed a range of LED incorporated school safety signage aimed at reducing speeding, making drivers aware of potential hazards and enhancing road safety around schools.
There are a range of benefits of partnering with TWM to meet your school signage needs.
An intelligent, flexible solution
TWM’s remote CMS (Central Management System) allows you to easily, and remotely, timetable and manage your signage to fit in with local school hours and term times up to five years in advance. In addition, this feature enables you to tie in and synchronize multiple signs at the same location for maximum effect as well as giving you access to comprehensive reports detailing sign status, timetables, activations in addition to power consumption and error reports.
TWM can manufacture bespoke signage subject to the hazards within your area, helping to ensure drivers are made aware of them.
Sustainability is an increasingly important benchmark of success for councils and businesses alike.
TWM is part of Pilot Group, a portfolio of businesses with a shared mission to become Net-Zero champions. We integrate sustainability into all of our solutions, this includes our school signs which are all available with solar and wind power options.
With sustainability at our core, as a group we have saved over 10 million tonnes of co2. We have also planted over 800 trees within our Pilot Group Forest, located across Lancashire.
Affordable, reliable solutions
At TWM, we recognize that schools and local authorities often face tight budget constraints when delivering a project. With minimal annual running costs and robust designs, TWM’s school safety signage solutions are the perfect solution, keeping operational and maintenance costs down to a minimum.
Intelligent signage solutions have been proven to be effective tools in improving safety around schools, thus helping to improve driver awareness of surrounding hazards. And, by installing LED integrated signage, there is higher likelihood of compliance due to the greater visibility of the signage, which should in turn help to reduce the number of incidents around schools.
To discuss how TWM can help you improve safety outside of your school, contact us here.