Would you pay $100 a year for a school parking spot?

School drop-off and pick-up: A "nightmare" for parents and schools.
School drop-off and pick-up: A "nightmare" for parents and schools.  Photo: Getty

What is the traffic like around your child's school? For many, it is pretty dire. In fact some parents have gone as far as saying drop-off and pick-up time is a "nightmare."

While 'kiss and drop' zones work well when people observe the rules, there are many that use them to park. At my child's school, parents often double park outside the school causing havoc for other drivers and creating extra danger for pedestrians.

It's a common problem, and it isn't unique to Australia. But one British school has devised a solution - a school car park. St Gregory's Catholic Academy, in Longton, Staffordshire plan to create a 50-space car-park to help ease traffic problems around the school.

Principal Margate Yates told the BBC that traffic problems have "plagued the school for years" and that there were genuine concerns for student safety. "The safety of the children has to be put first, above everything else.

"There have been instances of people parking disrespectfully, blocking residents driveways and also some stopping in the middle of the road to let passengers out," she said.

But while a school car park sounds like the perfect solution, it comes with a catch – parents need to foot the bill. And at the equivalent of $100 a year, some parents say they would rather take their chances with the traffic.

Michael Underwood, who has two children in the school, told the Stoke Sentinel that while traffic was a concern he wasn't happy that parents were expected to pay for a solution. "I've never heard of anybody being charged money just to drop children at the school gates – it's like a parent tax," he said.

 As many as 60 children a year are killed in accidents in school zones in Australia, and like St Gregory's, traffic problems around many schools are chaotic and dangerous. So could school car parks help to ease the pressure?

I spoke to a number of Australian parents about the traffic situation at their school. Anna a mother of two from Melbourne says that the traffic around her daughters' school is terrible and that she would be happy to pay for a school car park. "I have to get to school at least half an hour early to find a park," she says.

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Nicole, a mother of three from Brisbane, says that she would be reluctant to pay for parking, but admits that she "wouldn't rule it out."

"Parking is terrible around our school, not helped by the fact that there is another large school one block away. The pick-up zone is well run – but problems arise when people don't play by the rules," she says.

Of course there are many other alternatives to dedicated school parking. One solution is to enforce 'kiss and drop' zones more effectively. Gemma, a mother of three from Sydney says that her school has a "brilliant" system that works really well. "Each family has a laminated sign with their kids names and family name on it, there are three stations and three cars go in at a time and leave at the same time.

"There is a bit of a queue but it is open until about 3.20pm so they ask parents to stagger the pick ups," she explains.

Another way to avoid traffic congestion around the school is to park further away. Ash, a mother of five, tells me that she never has trouble parking a block from the school and is happy to walk her younger children the rest of the way.

And for those that live within walking distance of the school – travelling on foot eliminates the problem of parking altogether.

What do you think? Would a paid school car park be a good solution for your child's school?

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