A new speed limit report by the Green-Schools Programme has revealed that 38% of people driving cars and other vehicles exceed the speed limit outside schools. Conducted in late 2021 by Green-Schools Travel Officers the report, Speedweek 2021, recorded the speed of 7449 vehicles in the vicinity of schools during a weeklong period. As students return to primary and secondary schools around the country this week Green-Schools is calling on those who drive to reduce their speed and adhere to all speed limits, particularly those outside schools.

The Green-Schools Travel Programme works with schools to encourage anyone who can to walk, cycle, scoot, use public transport or carpool to school. As part of their work, Travel Officers conduct speed limit reviews with the help of schools’ Green-Schools Committees and assist schools with advocating for lower speed limits where necessary. For the Speedweek report, officers deployed a convenience sampling protocol and worked in agreement with schools enrolled in the Green-Schools Travel Theme. Measurements were taken during and after drop-off time at the schools which were situated in a mix of speed limit zones ranging from periodic 30 km/h to 100 km/h in a geographical spread across the country incorporating 24 of the 31 Local Authority areas.

 Higher speeds recorded during the analysis included: 

  • 134km/h in a 100km zone
  • 120km/h in a 60km zone
  • 114km/h in a 50km zone, and
  • 90km/h in a 30km zone.

The aim of the research was to gain a nationwide picture of speed outside schools. Data from Speedweek was compiled and analysed in ArcGIS. The data and report are a unique data set which is school-specific research and a first for Green-Schools Travel. Variables such as weather, the presence of traffic calming measures, e.g., traffic wardens, horizontal and vertical deflections such as chicanes and speed bumps etc were also recorded. Vehicles were recorded in four broad categories: motorbikes, cars (including SUVs), vans and long trucks (including buses).

Ciara Norton is the Manager of the Green-Schools Travel Programme: “We have a straightforward request for every person driving right now: slow down. We want the areas around schools to be places where families feel comfortable walking, cycling or scooting to school. Children deserve that security; they deserve clean air and the knowledge that they are seen and respected by people driving close to them.”

The report highlights: 

  • 36% of all vehicles exceeding the limit across both drop off and after drop-off period (38% at drop off time)
  • 84% of vehicles in periodic speed zones exceed the speed limit, suggesting periodic speed zones without engineering or enforcement are not working
  • 88% of vehicles exceeded the speed limit in 30 km/h per hour zones.

The Speedweek 2021 Report serves to highlight a parameter outside and along routes to schools that could derail and defeat many would-be walkers and cyclists.  Green-Schools Travel support and promote the Love 30 Campaign in the challenge of the desired expansion of 30km/h zones across the country.

Recommendations in the report include but are not limited to:

  • Additional traffic calming to be introduced outside schools in lower speed limit zones to address speeding, i.e., 30km/h, 50km/h and 60km/h zones.
  • Increased enforcement in lower speed zones, i.e., 30km/h, 50km/h and 60km/h zones.
  • Further research to explore the effects of deflections and traffic wardens on driver behaviour and to enhance the data gleaned so far.

Report can be viewed/downloaded at: https://greenschoolsireland.org/resources/speedweek-2021-report/