The dangers of school traffic is a major worry for many parents, a new poll finds.
In fact, a third of more than 900 parents surveyed last spring said speeding and distracted parent drivers are their main concern, and drivers who don't follow the rules should be banned from school parking areas.
According to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health from University of Michigan Health, parents stress that school traffic can be hazardous to kids' safety. It's a scene with rushed drivers, cars in the wrong spot, and children trying to get through the mass of cars and buses.
"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 poll news release.
Nearly a third of parents fear for their child's safety going to and from school, with more than 25% thinking it likely that a child will get hurt near the drop-off area.
Along with speeding and distracted drivers, other safety concerns included parking in no-parking areas, dropping off kids in the wrong place, children not staying on sidewalks, and distracted bus drivers.
"Most schools have a plan to manage traffic and minimize the need for children to walk in front of or between cars," Clark said. "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."
School officials should take action when parents don't obey traffic rules, most parents say. About two-thirds of parents say the school should use cones, gates or other barriers to direct traffic. Also, most say police officers should give warnings or tickets to parents who violate traffic rules.
"Parents in our report overwhelmingly want school officials to be more proactive in addressing school traffic problems," Clark said.
Elementary school kids are most vulnerable to traffic injuries because they are less likely to know when it's safe to cross the street.
"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.
"School officials should also do their part to be aware of any safety concerns and strictly enforce rules," she said. "Ultimately, the responsibility for keeping kids safe lies with the adults in the school community, including parents, bus drivers, school officials and law enforcement."
For more on school traffic safety, see the U.S. Department of Transportation.
SOURCE: C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, news release, Aug. 10, 2022