Research Papers

The School Environment and Student Car Drop-Off at Elementary Schools

Version 1
Date added June 28, 2017
Downloaded 0 times/fois
Category 2017 CARSP XXVII Toronto
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 6B
Author/Auteur Linda Rothman
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation
Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)



Much of children's exposure to traffic as pedestrians is related to school travel. The traffic environment around schools is often identified as an issue of concern to parents and school administrators; however, the behaviours of drivers and pedestrians around schools and the environment in which these behaviors occur have not been well described. To examine the prevalence of risky driver and pedestrian behaviours during the morning school drop-off and determine features of the built environment associated with these behaviours. A cross-sectional observational study was conducted in the spring of 2015 at 100 elementary schools in Toronto, Canada. Observers completed a checklist to identify "risky" drop-off and pedestrian behaviors during morning drop-off. Binary outcome variables indicating presence/absence of each behaviour were created. Covariates included the proportion of private vehicle student drop-offs, presence of school crossing guard, traffic congestion, inner suburb versus downtown location, school social disadvantage and built environment features including; designated car drop-off areas, walkways/trails, number of intersections and length of higher speed/traffic volume arterial roadways (mapped within 200m of each school). Logistic regression analysis was conducted for each of the binary behaviour outcomes At least one risky driver behaviour was observed at 98% of schools and <1 pedestrian behaviour was observed at 90% of schools. The most common risky driver behaviours were dropping children off on the opposite side of the road from schools (79%), parking blocking vision (72%), and backing up dangerously (64%). The most common risky child pedestrian behaviours were crossing at uncontrolled midblock locations (85%) and between parked cars (61%). Traffic congestion around schools was associated with several risky behaviours; double parking (odds ratio (OR) 5.96), parking blocking vision (OR 5.11), dangerous reversing (OR 4.14), and children crossing between parked cars (OR 0.31). Designated drop-off areas were associated with lower odds of parking blocking crossing controls (OR 0.26) and dangerous reversing (OR 0.37) and school crossing guards were associated with lower odds of observed drivers texting (OR 0.18). Higher school disadvantage was associated with uncontrolled child midblock crossings (OR 14.37). Risky drop-off behaviours were pervasive at the schools. Traffic congestion around schools was correlated with many risky behaviours and efforts to reduce traffic congestion around schools by increasing active school transportation may be a valuable safety strategy. Designated drop-off areas were protective for several risky behaviours; however, the provision of drop-off areas may be at odds with the overall goal of reducing traffic congestion. School social disadvantage was related to uncontrolled midblock crossings, which may be indicative of more independent mobility of children living in low-income neighbourhoods, or that these neighbourhoods have less traffic infrastructure for safe midblock crossing. The results suggest strategies related to the built environment that might help decrease risky drop-off and pedestrian behaviours which may reduce the likelihood of injury risk. Results can help inform the development of road safety initiatives for schools and municipalities.

Linda Rothman