Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, planning - safety/accidents, planning - signage/information, ridership - old people, policy - congestion, mode - carpool


Websites (Information retrieval), Traffic queuing, Traffic congestion, Schools, Safety patrols, Rush hour, Recommendations, Peak hour traffic, Loading bays, Loading and unloading, Gridlock (Traffic), Countermeasures, Carpools, Best practices


Working with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Municipal and School Traffic Assistance Program, a research team from the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at North Carolina State University studied the traffic at 20 elementary school campuses during the peak afternoon school-travel hours. Study results led to several observations and recommendations. On average, 60% of carpool vehicles arrived in the carpool lane before the afternoon school dismissal time and spend an average of triple the amount of time of those who arrived shortly after the bell-ring time. Establishing multiple loading bays and staffing each bay with safety patrol to assist loading can greatly reduce vehicle loading and unloading time. The act of loading and unloading students should take less than 10 s per vehicle; the complete process of a vehicle entering, loading and unloading passengers, and then exiting can be completed in less than 45 s. Limiting options for drivers will reduce circumventions that may lead to crashes. If spillage onto adjacent roadways is a problem, a double lane for the queue at some point in the carpool lane is a viable solution. School traffic congestion can be addressed by encouraging a mode shift from private vehicles to school bus transportation, walking, or biking. To convey the study results to school administrators and to illustrate recommendations, a website (www.itre.ncsu.edu/stg) was created; it contains a simple decision tree to assist administrators in identifying the nature of a traffic concern and to provide recommendations for appropriate solutions. It also illustrates schematics of the optimal layout for loading and unloading students, with explanations of the recommended operating procedures and video clips of actual operations.