Student Drop-off and Pick-up Plans
While the City of Peoria has no jurisdiction in school parking lots, what happens in a school parking lot often affects what happens on the streets near that school. By organizing a safe and efficient student drop-off and pick-up plan, conditions can be made safer for students while improving overall traffic conditions around the school. However, many schools do not have the experience or knowledge readily available to make these changes on their own. The City of Peoria Engineering Department works cooperatively with schools and can provide the advice and assistance to help schools develop their own student drop-off and pick-up plans.
These recommendations are based on successful examples of student drop-off and pick-up plans developed for schools throughout the City of Peoria and Maricopa County.
The process to develop a successful student drop-off and pick-up plan is a cooperative effort involving parents, school officials, and City staff. To get a plan started, the school officials and parents must:
- Be open to change
- Create a Traffic Safety Committee comprised of the principal, other administrative personnel, willing parent/school volunteers, and ideally a school district representative.
- Contact a Transportation Planning Engineer at the City of Peoria Traffic Engineering Division. The contact information is listed below.
- City staff meet with parents and school officials during an arrival or dismissal time to observe traffic conditions. It is recommended that the observation take place during a time that school-related traffic is heaviest. The presence of a police officer is optional during this first observation. However, the behavior of parents may be affected by the presence of a police officer in uniform. Parent volunteers or school officials may wish to take photos or make a video tape of traffic conditions to help illustrate the concern to other parents and to preserve a “before” condition for comparison purposes.
- Parents, school officials, and City staff should discuss options immediately after this observation. The plan should try to follow the following criteria as closely as possible:
a. There should be only one or two main student drop-off and pick-up areas.
b. The student drop-off and pick-up area should be inside the parking lot and not along the street. In some cases, on-street student loading is the best option available, however.
c. There should be only one lane of traffic for loading students in the parking lot. Loading students in two lanes of traffic simultaneously is not recommended. If needed, a second lane may be formed parallel to the loading lane, but it must be merged prior to the loading area to ensure that all loading occurs at the curb only. This latter option may only be used on school property and cannot be used in public streets.
d. There should be a moving lane adjacent to the loading lane to allow vehicles free passage through the parking lot, even at busy times such as dismissal.
e. Vehicles waiting to load students in the loading lane cannot be left unattended. The loading lane can never be used as parent parking, even for short-term stops. Anyone who wishes to leave a vehicle for any reason must use a designated parking space. Because of this restriction, it is often possible to utilize a fire lane for loading, as parking remains strictly prohibited. Please coordinate the use of any fire lane for student loading with the City of Peoria Fire Marshall.
f. The waiting area for all the students should be as close to the parking lot driveway exit as possible to maximize effective length of curb space. Staff or volunteers should assist in loading students. They should also work to get individual students ready to be loaded before their vehicle has pulled up to the loading area.
g. Up to three vehicles along the curb should load simultaneously. Once all these vehicles have pulled away, the next group of vehicles pulls all the way forward to the end of the loading area. It is not recommended to load more than three vehicles at a time. Loading too many vehicles slows the traffic flow because it requires some students to walk longer distances to get to their vehicles. Meanwhile, vehicles closer to the group of students will leave the parking lot, leaving a space in the loading area not being used.
h. “Stand-back” lines set a few feet behind the curb are recommended to keep distance between students and moving traffic or opening car doors.
i. The student loading area must be separated from the school bus loading, as well as from walkers and bicycle riders.
j. Adult driveway monitors are needed where students are required to cross busy driveways, though it is desirable that students not cross any driveways. Bicyclists should walk their bicycles while on campus or when on the sidewalk adjacent to the campus. Scooters, rollerblades, and skateboards should not be allowed on campus.
- The traffic safety committee should then decide how the plan will function based on their school’s needs and design. Before the new plan is implemented, the following preparations must be made:
a. The school must allocate staff or volunteers to assist in the smooth operation of the loading plan. Their function is to assist the students during loading/unloading and to make sure that parents are not parking in the loading lane or loading students outside of the designated area.
b. Traffic signs and pavement markings must be changed to reflect the new plan. The City of Peoria will complete any work in the right-of-way. The school or district is responsible for work on the school property. The school must also purchase cones and/or vests for volunteers used in the plan.
c. The school must notify parents of the new procedures well in advance. This can be done through newsletters, flyer sent home with the students, announcements to students, announcements during PTA/PTO meetings, and information given out at school registration.
Other points to consider
- It is advisable to use a police officer to assist with the implementation of the new procedure during the first few days. Parents will need to be educated about the procedure and the presence of an officer should help keep traffic under control.
- Volunteers assisting with student loading should wear the same type of bright safety vest as crossing guards when working so they are visible to drivers and look more official to the drivers and students. This should help increase compliance to their directions and help them stand out, especially if working directly in the parking lot.
- Experience has also shown that parents are more willing to accept changes after a long break, such as at the beginning of a new school year or after winter or spring break.
- It is easier to train the students than to train their parents. It may help to provide incentives to the students of parents who follow the rules and help make the plan work. The children may have a positive influence on their parents.
- Provide incentives for students who walk, ride bicycles, or even carpool. The best plan will not work if there are too many vehicles for the school site to accommodate.
- School officials and parent volunteers involved in the pick-up/drop off plan must always maintain a pleasant demeanor regardless of the negative attitude that may be shown by a parent.
- It is important that the procedure developed is implemented unchanged. Experience has shown that frequent changes to a plan can lead to parent frustration, possibly resulting in less desirable ways to drop-off or pick-up their students. This is not to say that once a plan is implemented that it cannot be changed. If a plan is not working efficiently, or if conditions at the school change, City of Peoria staff can help assess if changes might be beneficial.
- Review all proposed changes to school traffic plans with City of Peoria staff before implementation.
- Do not direct traffic in the street. Only a police officer has the authority and training to direct traffic in the right-of-way.
For further information contact:
Transportation Planning Engineer
For police enforcement contact:
Traffic Hotline – 623-773-7020