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After passing your test you’re looking forward to showing off your shiny new wheels to your friends at school, but you should read this first to make sure you’re not breaking any laws or school rules.

A lot of new Northern Ireland drivers pass their driving test when they’re 17.

And if you’re lucky enough to get a brand new shiny set of wheels, you’ll want to show your new car off to your friends. But driving to and from school after passing your test can cause issues.

Today we’re speaking to New Driver NI’s Stephen Savage about what young NI drivers need to know before driving to and from school. Some Northern Ireland schools require students to sign a contract before driving to school.

Stephen says, “If you plan on driving your car to school, contact your school first.
A lot of schools in Northern Ireland ask students – if they’re planning on bringing a car – to sign a contract.”

Check your insurance coverage.

Stephen says all young NI drivers planning on driving to school need to check their insurance and whether it covers their journey.

“Look through your insurance policy and if in doubt, contact your insurance company and ask them if your cover includes driving to and from school,” Stephen advises.

“Also, some new NI drivers will want to give their friends a lift to school in the morning or a lift home at the end of school, but this is worth double-checking with your insurer and school policy,” he adds.
Parking at school.

Parking at school can be challenging, and Stephen says it’s a good idea to contact the school first and ask them about parking space availability, restricted areas, and their rules around parking.

“If you’re parking outside of school property,” Stephen explains, “do not park fully or partly on a footpath and make sure you are legally parked.”

What’s the speed limit inside school gates?

With hundreds of school children making their way to the same building at the same time, it’s no surprise that there are strict speed limits at schools.

The school or owners of the ground set the speed limit.

“Most schools – inside the school gates – recommend a speed of 5 – 10 MPH,” Stephen explains.

“Remember, kids of all ages will be walking, running, cycling and using scooters to get to school, so drive slow and be careful driving around the school.

Kids don’t have the same road sense or maturity as adults, so pay particular attention to kids running across the road, walking out from behind vehicles and not looking left and right while crossing.”

What is the speed limit around schools?

“Officially, the speed limit around most Northern Ireland schools is 30MPH, but that is still too fast,” Stephen insists.

“Outside the school gates, normal speed limits of 30MPH apply but err on the side of caution and slow down during the busy morning rush and home time rush,” Stephen explains.

And in 2020, 100 Northern Ireland schools introduced new part-time speed limits of 20MPH.

“The difference in 20MPH and 30MPH is significant when it comes to collisions so whether your school is one of the 100 schools at 20MPH speed limit, we’d advise all NI motorists to aim to drive below 20MPH in the areas around schools,” Stephen says.

Click here to see the full list of 100 schools taking part and check for your school’s inclusion.

What else should I consider when driving to and from school?

“Never block the school entrance,” Stephen says.

“Not only could you get a fine and penalty points, but you could be obstructing emergency services as well as creating traffic around the school.

Check with your school or local Council about no-idling zones which are becoming increasingly common.

For example, last year Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council in conjunction with Ards and North Down Borough Council launched an initiative with local primary schools to stop engine idling outside schools across the two council areas.

The take-home message is simple, slow down and follow all the rules and speed limits,” Stephen adds.

Keep up to date with all the Northern Ireland driving news, tips and tricks on the New Driver NI website.

For more learner driver advice see our getting started section, theory test help or practical test help to get you started. We also offer advice on buying a car, explain different insurance types and tips on staying safe.