45 mph school zone speed limit too high, head of Durham high school says

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – One Durham school is without a school zone speed limit and it’s driving the head of the school crazy.

Eric Grunden, chief school officer, spoke to CBS 17 about it because he wants to see the North Carolina Department of Transportation put more signage near Research Triangle High School and lower the speed limit.

The speed limit near the charter school right now is 45 mph. It never changes near the school because the school is not a designated school zone. However, the NCDOT put white school markings on the pavement, a pedestrian crossing sign and a crosswalk to alert drivers.

Grunden said parents are concerned and email him all of the time saying it is unsafe and worried a student will get hit by a car.

“It would be great for our younger drivers, less experienced drivers to have that lower speed,” Grunden said. “We’ve been lucky enough to never have an accident.”

CBS 17’s Laura Smith reached out to the NCDOT who said this is their first time hearing of the issue.

Research Triangle High School’s principal said the school has been on N.C. Highway 54 for years and can’t seem to get anything done and that is why he spoke to CBS 17.

“We’ve spoken to DOT over the course of 7 years we’ve been on this street and never have really ever gotten anything back about the possibility of putting up a school zone sign,” said Grunden.

Gruden said his goal is to put pressure on the population to make the school zone safer.

Crash statistics show if a vehicle going 20 mph hits a person, that person has about 90 to 95% chance of survival. As speeds increase, traffic engineers say so does the chance of death. If you double the speed to 40 mph, the chance of survival nosedives to 5%.

The NCDOT said speed limits in school zones are set 10 below the posted speed limit.

CBS 17 asked why this is not the case on N.C. 54 near Research Triangle High. The NCDOT said it is determined on a case by case basis, including signage already in please, walkability, and location.

Since speaking with CBS 17, Grunden is now in touch with an NCDOT engineer to try and get something done.

We will keep you updated on any possible changes.

If you have something that is driving you crazy on your drive let Laura Smith know about it. You can email her at Lsmith@cbs17.com.

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