How much time school traffic is adding to your commute

Moving Well | Sue Hewitt | Posted on 19 February 2020

Exclusive RACV research reveals how much school traffic delays are slowing you down.

If you feel that your commute is longer now that school’s back, you’re right. New data shows just how much school traffic can slow you down. (More: Victoria's dangerous 60km school zones)

Research from traffic tracker Intelematics shows school traffic has a “significant” impact on delays on roads across Melbourne, when compared with school holiday periods.

The school drop-off from 8am to 9.30am and pick-up from 2.30pm to 4pm can make trips on major roads take 10 times longer than in school holidays, according to Intelematics data.

School traffic signs

Some of the worst-affected roads include the South Gippsland Highway, Fitzgerald Road in Laverton and CityLink.

Driving the section of the Princes Freeway between Brooklyn and Laverton takes about 32 seconds in school drop-off and pick-up times during school holidays, but travel times blow out during the school term to 7.5 minutes.

A 10-second trip on CityLink between Burnley and Kooyong during school holidays stretches out to two minutes 44 seconds, making it 16 times longer during school peak hours.

Intelematics used data from thousands of sensors on roads and in cars from 1 October 2019 to 8 January 2020, excluding school holidays, public holidays and weekends, to calculate delays caused by school traffic. 

Intelematics says separate research in June 2019 showed that during school holidays there were consistent traffic levels from 7am to 6pm without the big spikes Melburnians experience during school peak hours.

On average, school peak hour adds between one and 10 minutes’ travel time in Melbourne suburbs, with heavy congestion on main arterial roads. 

Motorists travelling though several suburbs can expect cumulative delays adding significantly to their trip time. Drivers heading westbound on Toorak Road, South Yarra during the school peak would have a delay of two minutes, 32 seconds during the school peak, but those then heading northbound on Chapel Street, South Yarra would experience additional delays of two minutes, 46 seconds, adding up to a total delay of five minutes, 18 seconds.

More needs to be done in providing viable alternatives to parents and school children.

Intelematics chief product officer Denise Christie says while it is obvious that roads with multiple schools experience delays, the research shows that even roads without any schools still experience delays during peak drop-off and pick-up times.

“Obviously school pick-ups and drop-offs are causing delays around schools, but they are also causing delays on feeder roads to the schools in neighbouring suburbs,” she says.

“Everybody feels that when schools go back our commute time seems to be longer, now our data shows that this is actually the case.”

RACV’s senior manager transport and infrastructure Peter Kartsidimas says RACV’s 2018 Redspot Survey analysing the state’s worst congestion spots revealed that the duration of morning and afternoon peak times have expanded under the pressure of growing numbers of vehicles. 

“We must continue to examine ways to ease Melbourne’s crippling transport congestion which is only getting worse,” says Peter.

 “To help ease congestion around school zones, RACV is encouraging parents to walk or cycle with their kids to school to support an active and healthy lifestyle.

“However, more needs to be done in providing viable alternatives to parents and school children, with RACV also calling for greater investment in public transport across the city and outer suburbs.”


10 of the worst school traffic spots


Traffic spot

Traffic spot


Time added


Princes Freeway

Northeast-bound between Brooklyn and Laverton North

7.11 minutes

1354 per cent


Citybound between Burnley and Kooyong

2.44 minutes

1625 per cent

Punt Road

South Yarra

2.29 minutes

246 per cent

Kings Way

Northbound, South Melbourne/Southbank

 1.52 minutes

159 per cent

South Gippsland Highway

Northbound, Dandenong South

1.29 minutes

319 per cent

Fitzgerald Road


1.18 minutes

846 per cent

Frankston-Dandenong Road

Northbound, Dandenong South

1.1 minutes

190 per cent

Hoddle Street

East Melbourne

52 seconds

181 per cent

Western Ring Road


48 seconds

259 per cent

Grange Road

Northbound, Burnley/Toorak

46 seconds

235 per cent

Road safety explained: what RACV is doing to keep you safe on Victorian roads.