University of Michigan poll: Many parents feel school traffic is dangerous

A woman walks a child to school. (Pexels)

ANN ARBOR – Morning drop off is a period of stress for parents worried about impatient drivers and children trying to navigate chaotic and clogged school driveways.

Many parents feel school traffic poses a danger to student safety, according to a new poll by University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

More than a third of parents reported distracted parent drivers and speeding posed a threat around their child’s school. One in three parents went so far as to say that those who break traffic rules should be banned from their child’s school drop off area.

“Many parents dread returning to the daily hassle of getting kids to school and one of the top concerns involves children safely walking through car and bus traffic,” Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark said in a statement.

Nearly one third of parents fear for their child’s safety when traveling to and from school and more than a quarter said they feel it’s likely their child will get hurt near the parking area. The nationally representative poll received 923 parent responses who have children between the ages of 6-12.

The poll found that only one in 10 children walk, bike or ride a scooter to school and more than 50% of children get to school by car.

Nearly half of parents said their child walks through the busy car drop-off and pick-up area each day.

Other safety concerns parents noted were bus drivers not paying attention, children walking off the sidewalk, dropping off in the wrong location and parents parking in no-parking zones.

“Most schools have a plan to manage traffic and minimize the need for children to walk in front of or between cars,” Clark said in a statement. “When parents don’t follow these rules, it disrupts the traffic flow and may mean other parents have to drop off or pick up their child in the middle of the road. This situation may be even more dangerous if parents are distracted by phones or in a hurry.”

Nearly all parents believed school officials should intervene when parents break traffic rules at or near school. Two-thirds of respondents felt that schools should put barriers like cones and gates to direct traffic flow and three in five parents said parents who make traffic violations should be ticketed or receive a warning from law enforcement.

“Parents in our report overwhelmingly want school officials to be more proactive in addressing school traffic problems,” Clark said in a release.

Clark also noted that children in elementary school may be especially vulnerable to injury when navigating traffic due to their lack of judgment when crossing a street compared to older kids.

“Parents should first ensure they are consistently following the traffic rules themselves. They can also take steps to prepare their child to travel safely to and from school by making sure they always look both ways for traffic,” Clark said in a release.

“School officials should also do their part to be aware of any safety concerns and strictly enforce rules. Ultimately, the responsibility for keeping kids safe lies with the adults in the school community, including parents, bus drivers, school officials, and law enforcement.”

To see the full report, click here.