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.