How do I navigate school parking?

It can be so frustrating, you just want to drop your kids off at school and go on your way, or pick them up at the end of the day to take them to one of their billion after school activities, but you can’t get a park close enough to the school.

For this reason, many schools and Councils have installed pick-up/drop-off zones out the front of the school to compliment other school parking. Some Councils refer to these as ‘Kiss & Go’ zones. The idea is that you can drop your kids off outside the school, help them get out of the car if necessary, give them a kiss and send them on their way, safely into school. Then you can continue on to work or other activities. These zones work well at drop off time.

School pick up can be a bit more of a challenge though. The reason being that kids dawdle out of school, making their parents wait longer than the parking limit. Many parents also arrive before the school bell, rather than potentially leaving their kids waiting.

School parking

 

Kiss & Go Zones

Many Kiss & Go zones are controlled by ‘No Parking’ signs.

‘No Parking’ means that you can stop your car and get out to help your kids in and out of the car (and kiss them goodbye – if they let you). However, the driver cannot move more than 3 metres from the car. In most instances this will allow you to help them onto the adjacent footpath, but no further.

Generally No Parking signs don’t have a specified time on them. In this case, the Road Rules allow you to stop for up to 2 minutes. However, No Parking signs may have a time limit specified i.e. 5 minutes – but remember that you still cannot move more than 3 metres from your car. It is also noted that cars displaying a current parking permit for people with disabilities may park for up to 5 minutes if no time is specified on the sign or if the time specified is less than 5 minutes. Otherwise, twice the time limit applies as per other parking restrictions.

Kiss & Go zones work efficiently if everyone abides by the time restrictions and moves on. Cars can also shuffle up to the next free space while waiting for their kids. This allows cars to enter the drop off zone from the back, rather than attempting to parallel park in front of the school at a busy time. Also, if you use these Kiss & Go zones you should encourage your kids to move quickly out of school so they are ready to hop in the car when you arrive. If your kids aren’t out the front ready when you arrive, you need to move on and let others use the facility.

No Stopping Zones around Schools

There are usually No Stopping zones around schools to ensure the safety of everyone. These are usually located at the school crossing, driveways, intersections and where parking would risk the safety of pedestrians, bicycle riders and motorists. It is essential that you don’t park in these locations.

‘No Stopping’ is very different to ‘No Parking’ and means that you cannot stop along the section of road AT ALL. That doesn’t just mean stopping to park or drop off, but stopping your car, even with the engine running. Obviously being held up due to congestion is unavoidable and is not considered stopping in this instance. However around schools with Kiss & Go zones, sometimes this congestion is formed due to a queue to enter the Kiss & Go zone. The car stopped in this queue IS considered to be stopping and it is ILLEGAL, as you are holding up the traffic behind you.

An example of this is the blue car in the photo below. It is stopped illegally in a No Stopping zone, which is signed and supported by the (faded) yellow linemarking (Road Rule 169) along the kerb, whilst queuing to enter the Kiss & Go zone. Other cars, like the white one shown below, have to pull out onto the wrong side of the road to pass this car, creating a dangerous situation outside the school.

Car illegally stopping on approach to Kiss and Go Zone - source Herald Sun

 

Knox Council has recently been booking cars doing just this.

In this situation you must not sit and wait to be able to enter the Kiss & Go zone, you need to move on and find an alternative location to park, or safely come back around and try again.

Alternatives to driving to school

Of course, it is even better for your children to walk, ride, scoot or take public transport to school. If not everyday, then on at least a few days of the week. And remember, that PART WAY IS OK. Not everyone lives within walking distance of their school. However, if you parked 500m from school and walked, then congestion around schools would be reduced. The bonus is that you and your kids have done 5-10 minutes of exercise!

Double parking illustration

Other common parking and driving errors around schools

Double Parking – when cars pull up alongside legally parked cars and allow their kids to jump out or in the car, holding up traffic behind them and risking the safety of their children.

Parking across driveways

Parking in or across driveways – parking over or in nearby driveways not only causes disharmony between the school and the neighbours, but is illegal.
Driveways are used by pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles and must be kept clear.

Parking at intersections illustration

Parking too close to intersections – parking too close or within an intersection makes it difficult for other vehicles to enter and exit the intersection. It also makes it difficult for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to see oncoming vehicles, making the area UNSAFE for all users.
The minimum distance that you can park from the corner is 10m unless signed otherwise. Longer sections of No Stopping are sometimes installed at intersections to improve safety.

Parking too close to school crossings illustration

Parking too close to School Crossings – parking too close to school crossings makes it difficult for drivers to see the crossing supervisor and children on the crossing as well as for the crossing supervisor to judge gaps in oncoming traffic.

U-turns outside the school illustration

U-turns outside the school – whilst U-turns are not banned outside all schools, they can be a dangerous manoeuvre to perform. A vehicle performing a U-turn MUST GIVE WAY to ALL other vehicles and pedestrians. This makes U-turns in a busy school environment difficult and can take some time to perform. Unfortunately, many drivers get frustrated and pull out in front of other vehicles and do not take due care regarding pedestrians or bicycle riders.
Where possible, an alternate route should be taken to avoid U-turns. It may involve driving around the block.

Source of images: Victoria Road Rules

Written by Lindsay Layzell, Senior Engineer
December 08, 2016