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How children travel to school

School run traffic chaos

Schools are encouraging walking and cycling, but travelling by car is still popular

3 September 2018

More than half of parents (56%)* say they experience ‘traffic chaos’ outside schools at drop off and pick up times, despite efforts from headteachers asking them to avoid using the car on the school run.

As children start heading back to school this week following the summer holidays, the AA asked more than 3,000 parents about the efforts made to reduce the number of cars at the school gate.

  • Two fifths (42%) say their school actively encourages their pupils to walk to school
  • A quarter (24%) say there is a school bus service provided
  • A fifth (20%) say their school wants their students to cycle into school.

Busy city centre dual carriageway junction

The findings come as the Department for Transport recently revealed half of children usually walk or cycle to school, a level which has remained similar to those in 2002.

Edmund King, AA president says; “Getting children out of the house to go to school can be a challenge at the best of times, and that isn’t helped with the numbers of cars outside the school gates.

“Headteachers are trying their best to promote walking, cycling and scooting to school in an effort to reduce the number of cars heading to schools. But with the school run coinciding with parents having to get to work, the temptation is there to just stick the kids in the car and drop them off on the way to the office.

Just banning drop-off areas in cars means the problem shifts into the next street. Asking both kids and parents when and how they might get to school without the car might produce solutions that work for that community
Edmund King, president of the AA

“The best travel plans are made by the pupils themselves as they can convince their parents what is best for them and the school. Just banning drop-off areas in cars means the problem shifts into the next street. Asking both kids and parents when and how they might get to school without the car might produce solutions that work for that community.

“While there is no universal solution to the problem, walking and cycling levels have not increased for 15 years, therefore a more collective effort is needed to tackle the issue. 

“Schools may need more storage space for bikes and scooters. Local councils should provide more buses and employers should be more flexible to allow parents to walk their children to school.”


* Populus received 3,378 responses from AA members with children to its online poll between the 14th and 20th August 2018. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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