Cars ‘most annoying’ aspect of the school run

12.05 | 2 October | | 14 comments

Living Streets is calling for new measures to reduce the number of vehicles on the school run, after figures show more than half of parents believe there are too many cars around school gates.

The research, carried out by YouGov, was published by the charity yesterday (1 October) to mark the start of International Walk to School Month.

At 54%, parents described ‘too many cars around school gates’ as the most annoying thing about the school run – followed by cars parking on the pavements (50%); and too much traffic on the journey (45%).

Also included in the top 10 are dangerous crossing points in the road (33%), poor street conditions (28%) and having to travel a long distance to/from the school (9%).

Living Streets is calling for more local authorities to pilot school road closures – prohibiting cars from the school gates at drop off and pick up times, alongside a series of other measures to encourage more families to walk to school.

Tanya Braun, head of policy and communications at Living Streets, said: “Put simply – more children walking to school means fewer cars on our roads.

“Piloting closing streets to cars outside schools at the start and end of the school day is a great way to improve the safety of our children’s walk to school.

“It removes issues of unsafe parking, speeding traffic and helps to reduce the toxic air which stays around our children’s schools long after the cars have left.”

New figures released by DfT last week (27 Sept) show that 14% of the children killed on Great Britain’s roads in 2017 were involved in incidents between 7-9am, with 23% between 3-5pm – school run hours.

Tanya Braun added: “We need to see many more measures which make it possible for families to walk to school: lower speed limits, better crossings and constraints on pavement parking.  

“By creating safer school walking routes and investing in proven behaviour change initiatives, we can help reduce the number of cars on our roads – improving safety for everyone and making the experience a much more pleasurable one.”

As part of International Walk to School Month, Living Streets is encouraging people to write to their local councillor to urge them to prioritise the cretion of safe walking routes to school.


 

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    James, sorry if I misunderstood you and thank you for clarifying that you apparently agree with me that we should all have equal rights to access all parts of our public highways at all times.


    Charles, England
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    Charles, I haven’t once advocated the closing of roads, for the many reasons including that reason of “whom are we to judge”. I was hopeful it was evident in my previous comment, “It would seem hugely unfair to penalise parents who require access by closing the road”, or in my comment that it’s not reasonable to do on a case by case basis.
    Might I suggest you keep you fantasies of me designing Orwellian nightmares to yourself please? I don’t feel they are of benefit to the discussion when delivered in such a fantastical way.

    I feel a far better option would be to utilise materials (like those made apparent to us in the article/comments), in order to help ensure as safe of an environment as possible for anyone using the road. I stand by my first comment that “We also need to be cautious not to penalise those who may… [be] …driving their children to or from school”, as they may be doing so safely. As you can see from my adjustment above, I agree that the wording in my first comment was less than ideal.


    James Fee, Nottingham
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    +1

    James, do you really think we have the right to judge the “validity” of a parent’s reasons for completing the school run in a car? That sounds very Orwellian to me. Surely we shouldn’t be discriminating against people because of the circumstances they find themselves in. How would you know the time and financial pressures that people are under? Would each parent have to go through a checkpoint along the road to school and justify their choice of transport, justify the contents of their child’s lunch box, prove their and their child’s ability/disabilty quotient and grease the palm of the gatekeeper? Or where would you draw the line in this dystopian future you seem to be alluding to?


    Charles, England
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    --3

    James – wires may have become crossed here..firstly I was referring to the first comment on this thread by Lisa Daniels and the blog she referred to re: Safe Driving near Schools which I thought good advice, but not much good if those doing the ‘driving near the schools’ don’t get to read it, hence my suggestion of engaging with these drivers when the opportunity is there i.e outside the school, sitting in their cars. Possibly that wasn’t clear and I was not suggesting we ask drivers not to use their cars for the school run, which no doubt would lead to some arguments!

    When I said ‘don’t give them anything to complain about’, I was talking about one’s manner in dealing with the motorist, rather than debating a controversial issue such as closing the road etc. which is not, strictly speaking, collision prevention anyway, which is what I would prefer to be talking about.

    In any such engagement, basically, I’ve found that if you say the right thing in the right way i.e. non-preaching, not patronising, respectful but firm, I think it does work for most.


    Hugh Jones
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    Charles; I’ll concede my phrasing could have been better in that final sentence. I suppose I’m trying to highlight that some parents might have more validity for completing the school run in a car than others. An obvious example that jumps out to me are to make allowances for parents who have children who may have difficulties with mobility. It would seem hugely unfair to penalise parents who require access by closing the road. In addition, should anyone wish to highlight that schools could allow access on a “case by case” basis, please bear in mind the pressures on schools and staff (both financially and in terms of time) before making such a suggestion.

    Hugh; so far you’ve stated that YOU can do it, and why YOU can do it, but not provided any example of HOW you do it. I’d be keen to see a precis of what psychological tactics you employ to your success in these scenarios? How do you ensure that there’s nothing they can complain about, when those parking on the street are clearly in opposition to the idea of closing the street? It is not uncommon for people being presented with an opposing opinion, however politely, can become confrontational.
    Please don’t think I am being negative and avoiding taking action; I am actively seeking your advice on this matter, and wondering how you would deal with the situation.
    Thanks 🙂


    James Fee, Nottingham
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    It’s how you deliver the message Pat – it’s possible to get a message across without winding people up. I’ve never had a driver turn aggressive towards me in such educational/enforcement scenarios. A bit of psychology helps – don’t give them any cause to complain is the secret. Also, it’s not about parking necessarily, it’a more holistic approach to improve their driving generally. I’ve had feedback from parents whose children had reminded them, whilst driving, of what they had learnt from road safety visits. I wouldn’t dismiss the idea out of hand.


    Hugh Jones
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    Hugh, you obviously haven’t had the experience many of us have had in dealing with parents who drive to school. Most parent-driver responses range from politely ignoring you to being fairly aggressive towards you. Several also expect/demand the council to build new car parks just for them. Just occasionally one or two have the grace to be embarrassed by their parking but it is rare.

    p.s all the suggestions made about handing out leaflets to motorists and to pupils in school to take home are going on at most schools most of the time. It’s not for want of information. These drivers know better but are mainly simply selfish.


    Pat, Wales
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    +6

    James, the way you’ve phrased your last sentence suggests to me that you believe some people are driving their children to school for an illegitimate reason. Can you clarify please.


    Charles, England
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    James – If you read the blog referred to, there’s nothing there that a motorist doing the school run could object to, as it’s not really about whether to use their vehicle or not, it’s advice about safe driving and statistically some of the ‘audience’ will definitely need it.It could be done under the heading of child pedestrian safety if you like.

    For those nervous about dealing with parents, pass the leaflets to them via their children in school…in fact they might take more notice of it even if it’s just to indulge their offspring.

    Those in road safety and collision reduction should be proactive and take every opportunity to educate drivers, not come up with reasons why they can’t.


    Hugh Jones
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    +1

    Hugh, whilst your idea is at its core a very good one, I do fear that the level of confrontation Road Safety Officers may encounter is reason enough for them to be put off from doing it. Regardless of whether to RSO is preachy or not, I fear it would come across this way to someone who is steadfast in the belief of “their right to be there”.

    We also need to be cautious not to penalise those who may have legitimate reasons for driving their children to or from school.


    James Fee, Nottingham
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    Dont be foolish Hugh as that could be somewhat confrontational. Perhaps get a local bobby to do it, he would be used to being abused.


    R.Craven
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    +4

    Here’s an idea for road safety officers: print-off some leaflets with the sensible advice from the blog referred to by Lisa Daniels (below) and visit schools in the afternoon when the parents are sitting outside in their cars. They’re a captive audience as they’re not going anywhere and engage with them one-to-one…who knows some of them might actually take the advice on board. As far as delivering road safety messages go, that’s as direct as it can be I would think.


    Hugh Jones
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    I am pretty certain that it would be the parents that drive their children to school that would be the most vociferous objectors of a proposal to close a school road at start/finish times.

    That is quite apart from the practicality and compliance problems.


    Pat, Wales
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    +3

    Related to this article, please take a look at our latest Safe Driving for Life blog post about how to drive safely near schools https://www.safedrivingforlife.info/blog/how-drive-safely-near-schools
    Thank you


    Lisa Daniels, Account Director, Williams Lea Tag, Norwich
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