The Frisco City Council approved new and modified reduced speed school zones at its July 7 meeting. The vote followed a discussion about seeking less “automatic” ways to mitigate risk around schools.
“I think that the recommended speeds at 20 miles per hour are probably a little bit too restrictive on these major thoroughfares such as the Custers, the Coits the Prestons,” Councilman Tim Nelson said.
Nelson said he felt there was a relative amount of risk associated with any school being near a road or crossing and that there were many ways to mitigate the risk.
“But I think the students that are attending especially the high schools, at a minimum, should have enough common sense and situational awareness, if you will, to be cautious in a school zone,” he said. “And a change in the speed limit in those zones should be maybe more appropriate at 30 miles per hour or something like that.”
Nelson added that the first goal was to reduce risk for students and drivers in the area. He mentioned factors where he said increasing a speed limit to 30 mph might make sense, such as the mix of students who attend the school or the amount of traffic crossing from one side to another.
“I think that we need to challenge ourselves a little bit more at this before we just automatically say anywhere there’s a school, we’ve got a 20 mph zone,” he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Will Sowell mentioned two major thoroughfares that he said seem to have drivers going from school zone to school zone. He asked if there was an alternative approach to establishing a school zone that is automatically an hour long at 20 mph.
“I get concerned that we drive so much frustration to drivers that the net safety benefit is lost in the school zone,” he said.
Mayor Jeff Cheney said the topic had come up before.
“I think kind of what I’m hearing is a little bit of frustration from council because I think we keep bringing this up, and we’re not hearing any new ideas on it,” he said.
Nelson said he was open to working on the topic through his last few months on the council.
The council unanimously approved the ordinance amendment that approved the new and modified zones. The ordinance amendment includes new school zones for Prosper ISD’s Rock Hill High School and school zone time changes for FISD schools. Afternoon speed reductions will last from 2:50 to 3:50 p.m. for FISD elementary schools, 3:40 to 4:40 p.m. for middle schools and 4:20 to 5 p.m. for high schools, according to a memo from the city.
The changes to the afternoon school zone times comes as Frisco ISD has extended its school day to end 10 minutes later than in the previous year. As a result, afternoon school zone times have been shifted to start and end later in the day, according to the memo. The amount of time the school zones operate will not change compared to last year.