Safety concerns over road congestion during the school run
As the start of Autumn school term approaches, the BCA survey reveals the pressures faced by parents – and other motorists – on school run routes. Both parents and non-parents were surveyed and with nearly half (45%) of non-parents saying they drive by schools or use the same route as parents dropping off their children, it's clear that school runs create some significant pinch-points.
According to the research, it seems that driving children to school is a clear necessity for many families, with 46% of all motorists identifying the distance from home to school being too far to walk as the root cause. Unreliable public transport, or the lack of a school bus, is a another reason cited by over a third (38%) of motorists and for 31% it's simply the logistics of getting different children to different schools that forces the decision.
But whatever the reason, it's clear that traffic congestion in general and parking around the school gates is a cause for concern for many motorists. More than half of drivers (57%) said they see illegal parking outside school gates, with this being most prevalent in Scotland (62%) and least likely in Northern Ireland (47%).
When it comes to arguments over parking and driving, it seems that parents are much more aware of these issues than non-parents. 28% of parents said they had seen parents and residents arguing over parking spaces, compared to just 16% of non-parents. London takes the top spot for parking arguments at 30%.
Child safety is a concern for all motorists with 44% saying they see parents and children opening car doors and not looking at oncoming traffic and 35% seeing children getting out of cars on the road side rather than pavement.
‘It's clear from our survey that the stresses of the school run are getting motorists hot under the collar. And there are potentially dangerous choices being made by some drivers when it comes to double parking outside the school gates and ‘drop and go' tactics that leave pupils having to negotiate busy roads before reaching the safety of the school,’ said Tim Naylor, editor of the BCA Used Car Market Report.
‘Driving in the rush hour is always stressful and the school run just adds to the congestion, with many motorists seeing parents and children taking what they perceive to be unnecessary risks. Perhaps that's why motorists were supportive of new measures to tackle congestion and parking issues that would make the environment safer for the school run.’
Top of the list for parents and non-parents was creating drop-off areas at schools at 53%; nearly a third (30%) suggested staggered drop-off times. But perhaps not surprisingly, non-parents were less keen on measures that might actually slow them down. Only 18% of non-parents favoured speed restrictions compared to 23% of parents. And probably considering the practicalities, parents were less in favour of community walking schemes at 27% compared to 39% of non-parents.