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How to Formulate and Implement the Best School Traffic Management Plan

The hustle of the school morning drop off and afternoon pick up traffic jam can see many parents or carers navigating through a web of parked and moving cars, running children, bicyclists and opening car doors. To reduce the chaos, some schools have smartly implemented strict drop-off policies or worked to promote walking and cycling, where possible. These solutions don’t work in every situation though, and as schools try to find solutions, many are dealing with increasing numbers of parents who drive their children to school.

The best school traffic management plan is established where a school is able to have an on-site, one-way drop off and pick up zone that is separated from the normal carpark area. Although this is not always feasible within the limitations of individual sites, one-way drop-off/pick-up zones are more orderly, safer and faster.

A one-way drop-off zone means that pedestrians and vehicles can be effectively separated to minimise the risk of accidents occurring, compared to when parents use the shared car park zone for dropping off students. By creating a separate drop-off zone, it will also make the actual carpark safer and more efficient to navigate through. When a car park is used as a combined drop-off/pick-up point, there are multiple types of vehicle movements to monitor in a condensed period of time. This includes turning, reversing, entering, exiting, and parking which creates a large risk of collision with pedestrians or other vehicles. Eliminating any chance of injury or fatality from collision is vital on school grounds!

Where drop-off zones have a loop or circular design, the shape may in turn create a temptation for students to try to run and cut through traffic as a short cut, especially if traffic has queued fully around the loop. This situation can be controlled by physical barriers, training and supervision to prevent vehicle & pedestrian collision.   

Good separation of vehicles from pedestrians and effective carpark safety can be facilitated through installing safety fixtures such as:

The NSW Government has established a Drop-Off and Pick-up initiative on their website, to boost the involvement of schools across New South Wales. The school initiative includes a volunteer adult supervisor that assists children in and out of the vehicle. The Drop-off and Pick-up initiative also allows:

  • Drivers to drop-off or pick-up students legally at busy times at the beginning and end of the school day
  • A volunteer adult supervisor to marshal the students at the designated school gate
  • The driver to pull into the drop-off and pick-up zone and remain in control of the vehicle while a volunteer adult supervisor assists the school students to exit or enter the vehicle

A major advantage of this initiative is that it reinforces road safety messages and safe passenger behaviour to parents and children. If children are learning these behaviours from a young age, they can continue to demonstrate safe practices in the future. Another advantage demonstrated through establishing this initiative is that it relieves traffic congestion around the school by ensuring cars do not park illegally.

In order for schools to set up the initiative, they need to:

  • Reach an agreement with the school community
  • Consult with the local council to determine if the school environment is suitable
  • Establish a roster of volunteers to be zone supervisors
  • Develop policies and procedures to administer the initiative
  • Fully understand all legal issues regarding liability in respect of students and volunteers.

Visit the NSW Government website to find out more information on how your school can initiate this new worthwhile initiative! 

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