Traffic Management



Traffic management and road safety around Canberra schools is a matter for everyone in the community. Speed, illegal parking and the volume of cars on the road all reduce safety for children, so it is important to drive cautiously near schools.

School environments can become congested during the peak periods, which potentially increases the safety risk to children as they are smaller and less visible to drivers. School communities can help to reduce congestion and improve safety in the vicinity of the school by encouraging children to walk or ride to school. Alternatively, try reducing the number of days you drive or varying the drop off and pick up locations, which can make a significant difference to improve traffic management and safety.

Parking Operations, police and mobile speed vans regularly patrol school zones to enforce safe behaviours. If you choose to drive, remember to park in dedicated car parking spaces and to be patient and follow the road rules at all times, because road safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Pick-up and set down

Traffic management and road safety around schools is a matter for everyone in the community. School environments can often become congested during the peak periods, as roads and car parks aren’t built to meet the high demand over a short timeframe.

Children are more at risk on roads around schools because they are smaller and less visible to drivers. The school community can help to reduce congestion and improve safety in the vicinity of schools by encouraging children to walk and ride to school.

To cater for parents who choose to drive, an effective pick-up and set down zone (commonly referred to as a kiss and drop zone) can help to reduce congestion and increase safety.

Pick-up and set down guidelines

Each school environment is different and managing the pick-up and set down zone will have varied requirements depending on the number of parents using the zone, the size of the zone and how it is managed by the school. Schools are encouraged to develop a process or set of guidelines that work effectively for them.

The afternoon peak is generally more concentrated than the morning peak, so the pick-up and set down zone might only need to be managed each afternoon and only for 10-15 minutes.

To ensure the pick-up and set down zone is safe and efficient, schools should:

  • Seek staff, P&C representatives or parents to manage the children and cars
  • Encourage parents to display their surname on the passenger side of the vehicle (either under the sun visor or on the dashboard) to assist managing the students
  • Purchase some high visibility clothing (e.g. some vests) to clearly distinguish the staff/volunteers to cars and students
  • Consider using walkie talkies (depending on the size of the zone) so staff/volunteers can communicate which children need to be ready for collection
  • Develop a set of guidelines and regularly promote them within the school community
  • Include a map in the guidelines to clearly delineate to parents the pick-up and set down zone
  • Train parents to do a lap and re-join the line if their child isn’t ready for collection
  • Encourage parents to collect children 10-15 minutes after the bell to reduce the concentration of cars (the afternoon peak is usually worse, but only lasts for 10-15 minutes)
  • Encourage more students to use active travel, which will reduce the traffic.

Tips for staff/volunteers:

  • Wear high visibility clothing to ensure you can be distinguished by motorists and students
  • Follow the guidelines or procedures put in place by the school
  • Remain on the footpath at all times, do not enter the road environment
  • Do not attempt to direct or manage traffic
  • Provide clear and concise instructions to students and motorists
  • Always be polite and courteous to students and parents/guardians.

Tips for parents:

  • Drive very slowly through the car park (max 10km/h) and be alert for children at all times
  • Never park in the pick-up and set down zone, it defeats the purpose of the area as a quick drop-off/collection point
  • If the area is managed by staff or parents, clearly display your surname in bold capitals on the passenger side of the vehicle (either under the sun visor or on the dashboard)
  • Children should always depart and enter the vehicle directly onto the footpath, not the road
  • Children should have their bags and other items readily available so they can quickly depart/enter the car
  • Children can generally be dropped at school 30 minutes prior or picked up 10-15 minutes after school, which can help to reduce the concentrated peak
  • Minimise the days you drive your children by encouraging them to walk or ride
  • If you need to drive, utilise partway drop off or collection points around the school to reduce congestion in the school carpark and pick-up and set down zone
  • Be patient and courteous when driving near the school.

Tips for students:

  • Have your personal belongings like your school bag ready, so you can quickly enter or leave the car
  • Always depart and enter the car onto the footpath, not the road
  • Wait in a safe location back from the kerb until you are collected
  • Keep your seat belt on until the vehicle has stopped and you are ready to exit the car
  • Follow the instructions of the staff/volunteers managing the pick-up and set down zone.

Transport Canberra and City Services' Schools Program can provide advice about how to develop a successful pick-up and set down zone, including examples from other ACT schools.

Safe driving

Creating a safe environment around schools requires a collaborative approach from everyone including parents, teachers, children and the broader community.

Speed, congestion and poor parking are all factors that can impact the safety of children. Often these poor behaviours arise from people within the school community itself, so it is important to remember that your behaviour is equally as important as the next person.

If you need to drive to school, please obey the road rules and be polite and respectful to other drivers. A little bit of patience and courtesy can go a long way to protecting the safety of children.

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Safety tips

Teaching children to travel safely to school on their own is a great way to build confidence and allow children to grow. Prior to letting children set out on their own, it is important to set them up with the skills and knowledge to ensure they can travel safely.

Some of the key things to remember include:

  • showing children the best route to and from school (in person and on a map)
  • teaching children how to cross roads safely (utilise crossings and underpasses where possible)
  • what to do in case of an emergency (key people to contact or where to go).

Encourage children to walk or ride to school in groups with their siblings, friends or neighbours. It is an excellent way to develop friendships and creates a safer environment as they are more visible to traffic and can help each other if required.

If your child is still too young to travel independently, create a roster with parents who live nearby to take it in turns to travel to and from school with the children. The children will quickly develop the skills and knowledge to travel independently.

Visit the Constable Kenny website for more useful safety tips and information, including a range of safety videos.

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Safe School Travel Plans

Safe School Traffic Plans (traffic management plans) will be developed for schools in the ACT. The plans will be developed in close consultation with each school and will provide useful information to:

  • identify and address safety issues around schools
  • increase student and parent engagement in active travel
  • highlight alternative drop off and pick up locations close to schools
  • provide useful tips to help reduce congestion and improve traffic flow around schools.

The plans will be published on this website once they have been developed.

Traffic congestion

Traffic congestion is a common issue around schools during the morning and afternoon peak periods.

Streets aren’t designed to cope with the sudden increase in traffic volumes for 15-20 minute periods each morning and afternoon. There is no traffic engineering solution to resolve this problem, roads and car parks simply aren’t built to meet the high demand over a short timeframe.

Here are some useful tips to reduce congestion and improve safety near schools:

If you need to drive your children to school, try reducing the number of days you drive or varying the drop off and pick up locations. If everyone opts to use active travel once a week it can reduce traffic volumes by 20% around the school. If everyone increased their active travel to two days per week, traffic volumes will be reduced by 40% and suddenly the school doesn’t face a congestion concern.

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