School Speed Zones

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School Speed Zones

Effective:  3/12/215
Approved by Council:  3/12/15
Supersedes:  6/30/2011
Prepared by: Transportation & Facilities Director Laura Cove and Police Chief Pat Bazemore

To provide for the safety of students and pedestrians, the Town of Cary will reduce speed limits in selected school zones. 

This policy applies to all public schools within the corporate limits of the Town of Cary. 

It is the policy of the Town of Cary to reduce speed limits on adjacent streets serving as major access points for public schools in the corporate limits typically by no more than 10 miles per hour.  No school zone will be posted less than 25 miles per hour. 

The authority to lower speed limits adjacent to or near schools is given to local authorities within their respective jurisdictions by North Carolina General Statute 20-141.1. 

Eligible Schools

Public school designation includes all schools within the Wake County Public Schools System located within Town of Cary Municipal Limits.  State approved charter schools can be considered “public schools” if an approved Traffic Management Plan for the school designates a program to facilitate students who walk to school. 

Only charter schools with an enrollment of at least 200 students will be considered for a reduced speed school zone.  School advance warning signs, with or without speed advisory plates, may be installed for smaller, well-established charter schools with an enrollment of at least 100 students.  A well-established charter school is one that has been in operation for two or more years. 

Private schools are ineligible for reduced speed zones as described in this Policy Statement.  Private schools will be eligible for school warning signs and “SCHOOL” pavement marking symbols. 

Preschool, child development centers, and other daycare type facilities are not eligible for school speed zones, and “SCHOOL” pavement markings are not allowed in advance of these facilities. 

Roadway and Speed Zone 

School speed limits should be in ordinance typically no more than 10 mph below the posted or statutory speed limit unless the Transportation and Facilities Director, in conjunction with the Police Chief, determines there are extenuating conditions adjacent to the school greater than those normally present in school zones.  In no case shall the school speed limit be less than 25 mph. 

The reduced speed zone should begin either at a point 200 feet from the crosswalk adjacent to the school, or at a point 100-500 feet from the school property line or other location determined by the Transportation and Facilities Director.  Consideration of school driveways will be given when setting the limits of the school speed zone.  Refer to the Town of Cary Standard Specification and Details for the typical layout design. 

Restrictive school speed limits should normally not be established along streets without bordering (adjacent/abutting) school property, or along highways that have bordering school property but no school access points and minimal pedestrian activity.  An exception may be considered if a safety investigation shows there are extenuating conditions on the street that could be significantly reduced by the implementation of a lower school speed limit. 

Verification must be made that at least one of the following conditions is present before establishing a school speed zone along a street without bordering school property, or along streets that have bordering school property but no school access points and minimal pedestrian activity:

a)   Queuing caused by school traffic is present on the subject route during the arrival and/or dismissal times at the school.

b)  There is a significant crash history on the subject route during the arrival and/or dismissal times at the school.

c)   There is a large percentage of school traffic using a stop sign controlled intersection leading to the school that has safety and/or capacity concerns.

The school zone speed limit so established should only be in effect during the hour surrounding the time of each beginning and ending school schedule or bell.  Specifically, the school speed zone should only be in effect during the hour “30 minutes before to 30 minutes after school begins and ends” unless the school provides documentation showing clear justification for changing or extending this set time.  Some other considerations may be: 

a)   The school has a significant number of students participating in before and/or after school programs.

b)  Extended lunch periods involve high volumes of students walking off-campus.

c)   The school has a significant number of extracurricular events that generate a large volume of traffic on the subject route.

d)  The school generates a significant amount of pedestrian or vehicular traffic outside of the “30 minutes before to 30 minutes after” time frame. 

When a school speed zone is designated on a State maintained roadway, a concurring school speed zone ordinance is required between the NC DOT and the Town of Cary. 

Highways designated as part of the Interstate Highway System or other fully controlled access highways shall not have posted school speed signs.

Speed Zone Layout

School zone flashers will be installed in conjunction with signage at the beginning of each school speed zone. 

The Police Department shall inspect each school zone in the Town each year to ensure compliance with posted school hours and to ensure ordinances are updated.  Repair, maintenance, programming, and testing of school zone signs and equipment will be coordinated with the Town of Cary Public Works Department.