With children set to finish their first full week of school on Friday, school drop-offs and pick-ups have dominated the back-to-school discussions between many parents in the community.
No matter the district or school site, it’s common for cars to clog the community neighborhoods around 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. when schools start and end. It’s also common for parents to clog the community facebook groups with their observations of the morning madness around schools.
Whether it’s students being dropped off in the middle of the road or the unconcerned drivers who block driveways, parents have taken issue with a number of traffic patterns that have persisted in the community for years.
“It’s a nightmare,” parent Kelly Unger said. “I’ve lived here 13 years in front of Rio Vista, but no matter what school you’re going to, we’ll all be complaining about the same issues.”
Unger described the front of her house as a zoo in the morning and afternoon, as she shared a time when she was locked in from leaving her house because the owner of a car had left their parked vehicle unattended and impeding the driveway.
“There’s been times when I come back home and honk, and the people will throw their arms up at me,” she said. “The attitude people get with you is bad. They’ll flip you off and curse at you, but we have kids to get to school and jobs that we have get to.”
Residents are always mentioning the problems to schools and sheriffs, but there’s little they can do to control it, Unger said.
“Some neighbors have had to park illegally in front of their driveway just so they can get out,” Unger added. It gets really hectic when schools host plays, back-to school nights or other community events.
“Every year around the first day of school, the problem arises,” said Philip Ellis, Newhall School District’s board president. “Our schools have different procedures that they try to set up to facilitate a speedy drop-off and pick up.”
When parents try to deviate from those rules, then complications occur, he added.
People should be prepared to pull in, drop-off their child and leave, so the line of cars can keep moving, Ellis said, which is a suggestion the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station made prior to the start of the school year.
There is going to be congestion twice per day with the drop off and pick up of students, Deputy Joshua Stamsek said in a release. If parents want to try and avoid some of the traffic, then try to leave a few minutes earlier, because arriving within a few minutes of the bell will leave you in heavy traffic at just about every school.
Parents could also arrange carpools for their children with friends or neighbors, which will lower the number of cars arriving at school sites, Stamsek said. It’s also helpful to have everyone ready to go when they get into the car to avoid getting to school, stopping in traffic and having to unload items from the trunk or back seat.
Another important note is to always have your child exit your car from the curb side of the car, because you never want them exiting a vehicle in lanes of traffic, Stamsek said. Parents should not let their child out across the street from the school and have them run across a congested roadway, nor should they stop in the middle of the roadway and let them child out in the middle of the street, which happens often.
School sites have regulations that are specific to the layout of the school, Ellis said. If parents follow the traffic lanes, “and if everybody works together in it, then there should be no problem.”