Shropshire Council

Support on 'extremely hazardous routes' grounds

Introduction

The law requires local authorities to provide free transport to pupils under eight years of age to their nearest school where they live over two miles away by the shortest pedestrian route. The distance is three miles for older pupils. The law also requires us to consider whether a route to school is abnormally hazardous, and to provide free transport where we believe this is necessary. If parents believe the route is extremely hazardous, we have the duty to assess the hazards and reach a decision on whether to provide free transport.

Extremely hazardous routes are assessed using the criteria on this page. This should help you to decide whether or not to submit a formal application given your particular circumstances. For students over 16 years of age, these criteria will be used, but only as a guide, taking account of the greater age and road sense of older students.

In very abnormal and unusual circumstances, the age of the pupil involved and the specific hazard of the route may, exceptionally, by themselves, be enough for us to provide free transport.

Criteria to be used to determine extremely hazardous routes

Legal responsibilities

The criteria we use to assess an extremely hazardous route doesn't try to determine that a route to school is either “safe” or “dangerous”; it's specifically a means of deciding whether we should take responsibility for transport from parents because the route is exceptionally and extremely hazardous.

General points

(i)  Road  safety  is  a  matter  of  education.  Parents  should,  in  co-operation  with,  but supplementary to, any instruction children receive in school, ensure children learn about road safety from as early an age as possible.

(ii) All roads are potentially dangerous, whether in a rural or an urban setting. However, special provision of home to school transport is only provided when road conditions are exceptionally and abnormally dangerous, as defined by the criteria.

(iii) Parents have a legal duty to ensure their children get to school. Under case law parents should do everything reasonably practicable and which an ordinary, prudent parent would do to ensure this happens. This may include accompanying the child, or arranging for the child to be accompanied, where it would be unsafe for the child to go to school unaccompanied. The law stipulates no age limit on this parental responsibility. Where parents choose that their children walk to school, they should be provided with suitable footwear and clothing, including reflective clothing if appropriate, and flashlights when and where necessary.

(iv) Where a speed limit exists we expect traffic to comply with it. Where this isn't the case we must assume that the police will take any necessary enforcement action.

(v) The crossing of a road doesn't by itself mean an extremely hazardous route exists. Most children, somewhere in the course of getting to and from school, need to do this. The establishment of school crossing patrols is a matter for the county road safety officer. A nationally determined formula exists for deciding where a school crossing patrol is required.

(vi) We won't normally provide transport and thereby assume this parental responsibility where the following circumstances apply:

  • An alternative route (ie, one which is not extremely hazardous) exists within the “walking distance”* from the home to the school. An alternative route may be a road, lane, footpath, public right of way or a bridleway.  (* For primary school children less than two miles or, for secondary aged children, less than three miles, measured over the shortest walking distance)
  • Because we assume parents will ensure children are accompanied to and from school by a suitable adult, an extremely hazardous route doesn't exist as a result of the following factors:
    • Lonely routes
    • Moral danger
    • Canals, rivers, ditches, dykes, lakes and ponds
    • Railway crossings
  • Where there's an adequate width of road to allow vehicles to give pedestrians a reasonable berth, or where there's a public footway or walkable verge. (‘Adequate width’ is normally taken to be a minimum of 6.5 metres of usuable road surface). Where local circumstances demand (eg extremely high numbers of vehicles per hour), parents would still be able to apply and, if necessary, appeal

Specific qualifying criteria on roads less than 6.5m in width, where there's no public footpath or walkable verge

On roads of less than 6.5 metres in width extremely hazardous routes will be seen to exist where the traffic exceeds the maximum (max)U vehicle numbers per hour shown in the table (below) for the relevant width of road, or where potential escape/refuge from traffic falls below the level set out for relating traffic volumes and individual lengths of road where escape/refuge is not possible. Its purpose is to specify a level of hazard where we'll assume responsibility for transport costs. Below this level we assume parents will take this responsibility themselves.

Acceptable maximum length of single sections of road without verges or refuge before broken by a verge or refuge

Acceptable number of vehicles per hour by road width

 

>3.5 metres road width

3.5 > 4.5 metres road width

4.5 > 5.5 metres road width

5.5 > 6.5 metres road width

 

 

 

 

 

 

10m

201 - 240 max U

301 - 360 max U

401 - 480 max U

501 - 600 max U

15m

161 - 200

241 - 300

321 - 400

401 - 500

25m

121 - 160

181 - 240

241 - 320

301 - 400

35m

81 - 120

121 - 180

161 - 240

201 - 300

55m

61 - 80

91 - 120

121 - 160

151 - 200

75m

41 - 60

61 - 90

81 - 120

101 - 150

120m

31 - 40

46 - 60

61 - 80

76 - 100

160m

21 - 30

31 - 45

41 - 60

51 - 75

240m

11 - 20

16 - 30

21 - 40

26 - 50

300m

6 - 10 9 - 15 11 - 20 13 - 25

500m

1 - 5 1 - 8 1 - 10 1 - 12

Footnotes

1 . Where visibility, audibility and escapability factors for pedestrians are substantially worse or better than the norm, the acceptable length of non-verged road will be respectively reduced or increased by one step in the table (above).

2 . A verge is a minimum area that a pedestrian could use as a refuge which is defined as 1.5 metres in length and 0.5 metres in depth.

3 . Only single unbroken sections of non-verged road will be measured and applied against the table - the cumulative effect on non-verged lengths on an entire route won't constitute the road being classified in its own right.

4 . Where HGV (ie large lorries) numbers, in the hourly traffic count, are more than ten and where this constitutes more than 10% of the total traffic volume, extremely hazardous routes will be seen to exist regardless of whether the total traffic volume fails to reach the levels required in the table.

How to apply

If you think you have grounds to apply for travel assistance under these grounds, contact us using the details on this page.