Field Studies of Operations and Conflicts in Drop-Off-Pick-Up Zones


Scott A. Cooner

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, infrastructure - vehicle, infrastructure - bus/tram lane, mode - pedestrian


Vehicle occupancy, Traveled way, Traffic queuing, Traffic operations, Traffic lanes, Texas, Schools, Roadway, Pedestrian vehicle interface, Highway operations, Field studies, Drop-off/pick-up zones, Carriageways


Primary schools frequently have queues that can lead to substantial impacts on the local transportation infrastructure. Queuing issues appear to be critical at primary schools, with substantial queues developing at both pick-up and drop-off times at most schools. Operational and design strategies vary substantially between schools, with some schools providing aggressive supervision and multiple queue lanes. This paper documents the field studies conducted at schools in Texas. These studies included examinations of school bus and vehicle ridership, conflicts, and queuing in parent pick-up and drop-off areas at 13 elementary and five middle schools. The studies were generally performed in both mornings and afternoons. The schools examined included sites in both large and small cities in Texas. The studies examined the effects of various operational and design characteristics on queue performance. Researchers documented the design characteristics of the queuing areas (i.e., number of lanes), operational strategies (i.e., presence of school personnel supervising the loading–unloading operation), and ridership (i.e., the number of students loaded into individual vehicles). The research team measured the performance of the queues through studies of the formation and dissipation of the queues at the observed schools and the incidence of conflicts between pedestrians and motor vehicles.