Traffic schemes & road safety information

Here you will find information on road safety traffic schemes and road safety.

Traffic management schemes are introduced to solve problems on one or more roads.

The need for a scheme can be varied. It may be a bad accident record or the concerns of residents that prompt an investigation.

Sometimes the council adopts an area-wide approach to traffic problems, for example, where there is a demand from several residential roads for speed control humps.

Priority is given to the worst problems first.
Potential schemes are assessed against the following policies:
  • to achieve safety by reducing accident levels
  • to promote the maintenance and improvement of public transport
  • to restrain traffic and safeguard the environment
  • to seek good levels of mobility and accessibility for all groups of people, particularly for those with poor mobility
  • to reduce the impact of commuter parking
  • to improve pedestrian safety, accessibility and convenience
  • to promote cycling
The council consults residents for their views before the introduction of any new traffic measures. Additionally, many traffic measures require the publication of a formal notice in the press.

A six-week period is allowed for objections to be received. Formal objections are considered and schemes may need to be redesigned with more notices before a legal traffic order can be made and the scheme introduced.

The council is responsible for introducing and maintaining physical measures and for making any necessary traffic orders. However, enforcing traffic orders is the responsibility of police.
There is no single solution to problems associated with traffic management. A variety of measures are used, sometimes in combination.
These humps are wide enough to allow a wide wheelbase vehicle to pass unhindered.

Buses and fire engines are not affected by them but smaller wheelbase vehicles, such as cars, would have to have at least one set of wheels on the hump.

These are intended to overcome the objections of the emergency services and bus companies. They make possible speed reduction measures in roads that would otherwise not have them introduced.
Chicanes and throttles are intended to reduce traffic speed by reducing the carriageway width across a short length.

Chicanes introduce a physical deflection into the vehicles' horizontal path, thereby further reducing the vehicle speed.

Throttles narrow the road, often to provide a safe crossing point for pedestrians, sometimes in conjunction with a speed table.
At some road junctions, visibility is often reduced because of the shape of the road or because of parked cars.

Building out the kerb into the carriageway can help solve this problem. It provides protection for motorists emerging from a side road.

Pedestrians are similarly protected, as they have more space to stand and can also see, and be seen, better.

Cars are forced to park further from a junction or crossing point.
Width restrictions are a self-enforcing means of restricting access for large vehicles. Posts or bollards are placed in the road about 2.1 metres (seven feet) apart, so vehicles wider than this cannot pass between them.

There must be an alternative route available for large vehicles and this sometimes limits their application in residential areas.

Sometimes a gate is provided for emergency vehicles. The gate is kept locked but emergency vehicles carry keys.

Many residents mistakenly ask for width restrictions to be introduced as a means of slowing down traffic. Width restrictions do not, and are not intended to, reduce traffic speed.
These help control traffic movements without completely restricting access.

One-way working may be for the whole length of a street or in a short length at one end.

A suitable alternative route must be identified and available for traffic travelling in the opposite direction, or for traffic needing to turn in the direction of the ban.

One-way streets often lead to increased traffic speed. Short lengths are difficult to enforce if drivers are irresponsible and determined to drive against the one-way. This is dangerous and illegal.

Some residents find one-way streets and banned movements inconvenient as they may result in reduced access to their homes.
These are an effective, self-enforcing means of stopping all through traffic movements. Roads are usually closed by a barrier with an access gate for emergency vehicles.

Near to a road closure, it is necessary to make provision for large vehicles to turn round. That is why it is not used in many residential areas. It may also be inconvenient to some residents.
Standard roundabouts are intended to assist at a junction where there is a heavy right turning movement. They work best where traffic flows on each arm are well balanced and allow traffic to flow freely.
Mini roundabouts are introduced both as a means of reducing accidents and to assist right-turning movements.

Their advantage over full size roundabouts is they can often be accommodated within the existing road space without road widening.
The council receives many requests for new and upgraded pedestrian crossings, each year. Requests are often made by residents and each is examined on its individual merits.

Many requests are not justified because of low levels of pedestrian movement. Other factors include the number of injures on the road near the site, the degree of difficulty crossing the road and local features such as hospitals, schools and shops.

Pedestrian crossings have shortcomings and are not the answer in every case. Here are some of the different types of crossings you might encounter:

Puffin crossings
One of the main features of a puffin crossing is the red and green man signals are just above the WAIT box and not on the other side of the road. Puffin crossings have special sensors built in which can detect a pedestrian waiting and make sure traffic remains stopped until all pedestrians have crossed the road.

Pelican crossings
Pelican crossings are controlled by the pedestrian pressing the button on the WAIT box. Pedestrians should only cross when the green man lights up and all the traffic has stopped. Sometimes there is a bleeper to help blind or partially sighted people know when it is safe to cross.

We no longer install pelicans, as the newer puffin crossings provide a better facility for pedestrians.

Zebra crossing
This crossing has black and white stripes with orange flashing beacons at each end. A zebra crossing gives the pedestrian right of way once their foot is on the crossing. However, pedestrians must make sure all the traffic has stopped before crossing.

Toucan crossings 
These crossings are provided for pedestrians and cyclists, usually at sites where cycle routes cross busy roads. They are operated by a push button on the WAIT box. On a toucan there is a green and red cycle signal as well as the more familiar red and green man. Cyclists do not have to dismount to cross.

Pedestrian refuges
In some locations, where a pedestrian crossing cannot be justified, a ‘pedestrian refuge’ or traffic island may be placed. These allow pedestrians to cross in two halves with a safe place to wait in the middle. Pedestrians should cross with care, as drivers have priority at traffic islands.

Useful documents
Design of pedestrian crossings local transport note 2-95.pdf 1 MB (.pdf)
The assessment of pedestrian crossings - local transport note 1-95.pdf 312 KB (.pdf)
Tactile paving is used at all zebra and signal crossings to help people with impaired vision. Similar tactile paving is also used at many ramped crossing points. Many signal crossings have audible signals, as well as the green man signal, to indicate when it is safe to cross the road.

Some staggered two-stage pelican and puffin crossings, and some junction signals, are fitted with a tactile knob on the push-buttons, rather than an audible signal. This is so visually impaired people can tell which part is safe to cross.
A junction entry treatment is placed across the carriageway of the minor road at a junction. The object is to show motorists they are leaving a main road and entering a residential area and to raise the priority for pedestrians crossing. They often have speed tables, kerb build outs and gateway features.
Carriageway markings are a cheap and cost effective way of reducing accidents. At junctions they provide an indication of priorities. At centre or lane lines, they indicate the best line for vehicles to follow.

Lane arrows are used to indicate which lane should be used for turning and straight ahead movements. SLOW markings are often used when approaching a hazard.

Areas of central cross hatching, commonly called ‘ghost island’ markings, are useful as a means of reducing accidents by separating oncoming traffic, reducing traffic speed and providing safe right turning areas. These have been shown to play a major part in reducing motorcycle accidents.
Continuous white centre line markings must not be crossed and are generally used to prevent overtaking and reduce speeds in roads with poor visibility due to bends or the crests of hills.

These are also used sparingly so they are more effective and have more impact when they are used. There are criteria for the introduction of these markings based upon the speed of traffic and the visibility distances.

It is an offence to park in any section of road marked with a continuous white line. Continuous white lines may only be crossed by traffic turning right.
There are a number of grades of priority junction throughout the county. Some junctions in residential areas may have no form of priority road marking. Markings will be provided if there is a specified road safety problem.

Other junctions may have a ‘give way’ line,’ ‘give way line and triangle marking,’ or ‘give way line, triangle marking and a give way sign.’

Some junctions may have a ‘stop’ sign and marking. There are strict criteria, relating to visibility distances of approaching traffic, which must be met before ‘stop’ signs can be introduced.
Traffic signals are designed to optimise and control traffic at a junction by sharing out the time to different arms of the junction and to pedestrians. Traffic signals do not always solve accident problems.
Northumberland school crossing patrol services are currently responsible for about 80 school crossing sites.

School crossing patrols are not just for children. Our officers assist anyone seeking help in crossing the road safely and cross thousands of adults and children every year.
If you are a community-minded individual and interested in helping others or working with the public, then becoming a patroller might suit you.

You should be available between the hours of 8am to 9:15am and 2.50pm to 4.15pm, Monday to Friday. 

If you are interested, flexible job share applications are considered.
Applicants will be required to attend an interview, complete an occupational health check and have a disclosure and barring service check before they can be appointed.

Once these have been cleared, the applicant will be contacted to arrange a start date.
All patrols will be issued with an approved coat, hat and crossing flag (lollipop stick). Full training will be provided by the county road safety officer.

Staff are paid monthly and are only needed to work during school term-time.

Officers are paid between £6.38 and £7.04 per hour and are eligible to join the local government pension scheme.
We have vacancies for school crossing patrols and relief school crossing patrols across the county.

The position of school crossing patrol officer is suitable for people able to commit a minimum of one hour a day to the service.

Please contact parking services for more information:
Speed limits are enforced by legislation. Comprehensive information on the speed limits you would expect to come across on different categories of road is given in chart form in the Highway Code.

If you would like a speed limit to be lowered, raised or extended, please contact us using the online form. Your request will then be assessed. The police’s view on a change to a speed limit will be sought.

The characteristics of the road, such as the level of activity alongside and accident record, will be taken into account.

In urban areas, speed limits should fit into an easily understood hierarchy for drivers to abide by. Before deciding to change an existing speed limit, the highway authority must consider all the relevant factors such as:
  • expected accident savings
  • reduction in public anxiety
  • improved facilities for vulnerable road users
  • delays to traffic
  • cost of implementation
  • cost of engineering measures and their maintenance
  • cost of enforcement
If it is decided a change in the speed limit is needed, then a new speed limit order has to be made. This involves a statutory legal process that takes about nine months.

If the road in question has a system of street lighting on it with no speed limit signs, the road’s limit is 30mph. The system of street lighting in a built up area should be sufficient evidence of the limit.
Traffic regulation orders
Traffic regulation orders.pdf 12 KB 3/12/2012 11:23 AM

Speed limits
Speed know your limits.pdf 75 KB 3/12/2012 11:23 AM