It isn’t surprising to hear of classes that have 30-40 students per section. Now, multiply that by 3, which is the minimum number of sections most schools have, and 12, the number of classes students are enrolled in. You could approximate that on an average, most schools have at least 1000 students. While parents in private cars drop some of these students, some take the bus or rickshaws and a few walk to school.
You guessed it right, chaos in front of the school gate.
It doesn’t help to note that many schools are located in residential areas and have gates that open out to narrow streets. For the sake of student safety, it is essential for schools to design ways to ease this traffic congestion. Here are a few ways that could help.
Encourage Students To Travel Together
The first step towards easing traffic congestion is to reduce the number of vehicles converging at the school gates. The simplest way to do this is to encourage students traveling by private transportation to take the school bus. Many parents shy away from using the school bus system because of a fear for their child’s safety and an uncertainty of when the bus will arrive at the bus stop. Equipping your school buses with a GPS tracking system can fight these fears to a large extent. Parents will be able to track the movement of the school bus and will be reassured of their child’s safety to and from school.
Alternatively, educate parents on the benefits of carpooling and encourage students from a locality to travel together instead of arriving in separate cars.
Designate Access Points
Despite all your efforts, not all students will use the bus system. Students coming from nearby may choose to walk or cycle to school. Some parents may insist on dropping their wards by private vehicles. Hence, pick up and drop off points need to be clearly demarcated. You may consider using one access point for buses and another for private vehicles. Ideally, the gate for private vehicles should be located near a parking zone so that cars are not double-parked on the road. Students who walk or cycle to school may be allowed to use the third gate. This reduces congestion at a single point and lowers the risk of accidents.
Classes can be categorized as primary, middle and high school. Apart from infrastructure and administration, this categorization can play a role in controlling traffic congestion outside the school too. Instead of having all the classes start and end at the same time, schools can stagger timings so that the number of students passing through the school gates at a time is controlled. Even staggering timings by 15 minutes can help.
Schools can also stagger the end of a school day on the basis of the mode of transportation used. Students traveling by bus may be allowed to leave first, followed by students who walk and lastly by students who travel by private vehicles. This will not only ease congestion but will also encourage parents to use the school bus system.
Enforce Traffic Rules
Traffic congestion is not the school’s responsibility alone. Schools can co-ordinate with traffic authorities to enforce traffic rules. Rerouting traffic through one-way roads can be a great help. Patrolling can also be increased during peak hours to ensure cars are not double-parked on the roads, parked across driveways or in parking zones, etc. In addition, schools can build speed breakers before and after the school gates to keep vehicles from speeding. Doubling fines for traffic violations around the school can also act as a deterrent and encourage safer driving.
While each of these suggestions can help, they may not all be universally applicable. For example, a school may be located in such a way that it isn’t possible to have multiple access points, Thus, it is important for schools to analyze their traffic situation independently and pick the solutions that work best for them.