By Kasia Ozog
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2022
With the new school year set to begin in the coming weeks, it’s been revealed motorists are unsure where they can park when dropping off and picking up the kids.
A recent samotor road sign quiz discovered that more than two thirds of people don’t know what a ‘no parking’ sign means, believing they were unable to stop there under any circumstances.
RAA Senior Traffic Engineer Matthew Vertudaches said the result was surprising and highlighted the need for some road users to brush up on their road sign knowledge.
Overall, just one per cent of respondents managed to get all nine road sign quiz questions correct, with the average score sitting at 75 per cent.
“There is often confusion between ‘no parking’ and ‘no stopping’ signs, with the latter implying that drivers can’t stop or park under any circumstances,” Mr Vertudaches said.
“‘No parking’ signs allow the driver to stop for up to two minutes to drop off or pick up passengers or goods, provided they stay within 3m of the car.”
‘No stopping’ signs, on the other hand, are frequently used in school zones on the opposite side of the road to the school to reduce the risk of children crossing the street to get to parked cars and to maintain enough space for vehicles travelling in opposite directions to pass one another.
With the school year set to start later this month, Mr Vertudaches said it was a timely reminder for motorists to take extra care on the roads to keep our youngest road users safe.
“Pedestrians are considered vulnerable road users, and children are among the most vulnerable pedestrians,” he said.
“Young children are still learning about road safety and hazard perception and can be unpredictable at times. Their smaller size also makes them difficult for drivers to see, and more likely to be concealed by objects or parked vehicles.”
Here are some rules and handy tips to familiarise yourself with to help keep children and other pedestrians safe.
School zone speed limits always apply
“It’s critical to obey school zone speed limits which apply 24/7, not just during school hours,” Mr Vertudaches said.
“Whenever a child is present in the school zone, you must travel a maximum of 25km/h.”
A child is classified as a person under the age of 18 years and includes a student of any age in a school uniform.
Attention is critical when driving through school zones, especially during school pick-up and drop-off periods.
“At these times, the road environment is very busy with cars and pedestrians, and drivers should constantly be scanning for children who may be about to enter the road from concealed places like behind a stopped car, or a tree or shrub,” Mr Vertudaches said.
“This is especially important for younger children who are more likely to be concealed by low objects.”
Be considerate when parking
When driving around school zones, be mindful of the residents and don’t park across driveways or block intersections. It’s also an offence to park across pedestrian ramps and crossings. Keep these clear so pedestrians can cross safely.
If you’ve found a parking space that can fit more than one car, be considerate and leave enough room for others. Don’t be a car-park hog.
Use designated pedestrian or children’s crossings
When walking through school zones, be aware of vehicles, and use designated pedestrian or children’s crossings wherever possible. It’s also important to note that it’s an offence for pedestrians to cross a road within 20m of a crossing, unless at the crossing itself.
Consider parking further away
It’s often easier and safer to park a little further away from school rather than attempting to get as close to the front gates as you can. Parking a street or two away saves you from getting caught up in the school traffic congestion and is also a great way to encourage exercise by getting some extra steps in. Sometimes it’s even faster than circling the school waiting for other cars to leave.
Walk to school
If you live nearby, consider walking your children to school and leave the car at home. If you do decide to walk, ensure you model good pedestrian behaviour.
Avoid using your mobile phone while walking, cross roads safely, walk on footpaths wherever possible and be courteous on shared paths. Walking is also great exercise, and fewer cars on the road reduces the amount of vehicle traffic around the school. It’s a win-win.
Stop, look and listen
Keep a close eye on your children when walking through school zones and hold their hands where possible. When crossing the road, look right, left and right again before crossing the road.
And remember, be patient around school zones. If you’re a pedestrian, wait until the coast is clear before crossing, and drivers should slow down and not rush when dropping off or picking up kids.