Most schools use signs in the drop-off/pick-up area to communicate the correct drop-off/pick-up procedures to drivers. There is no district-wide standard for what the signs say, nor how they are mounted. Permanently affixed signs have advantages, but most school use movable signs instead. Drop-off/pick-up procedures sometimes change year to year, so portable signs better adapt to change. The two most important messages are: pull forward as far as possible; and do not park along the curb. The reason to pull forward is that it allows the smoothest flow of traffic through the drop-off/pick-up area, and reduces conflict between drivers. However, for that to work, the school must encourage students to arrive at the far end, and to depart from the far end; in front of the main entrance or office is often not the most efficient location. The reason for no parking that many of the drop-off/pick-up areas also serve as fire lanes, and it is illegal to ‘stop, stand, or park’ along fire lane curbs. While Sac Metro Fire allows drop-off/pick-up to occur along fire lane curbs, because the vehicles can easily move forward and out of the way, but it does not allow parking, and will ticket drivers who park on the curb. Parking is defined as getting out of your car, even “just for a minute.”
A collection of signs from San Juan schools can be viewed on Google Photos. Not all of these signs are current, and not all are effective. The purpose is to give you ideas to think about, not to recommend a particular sign. You might want to try on sign ideas by placing a temporary sign on butcher paper to see if it has the intended effect. A district-wide standard with a small number of text options may be adopted in the future, but until then, it is up to each school.
Curb Colors and Pavement Markings
At your school, the parking lot configuration, drop-off and pick-up areas, and curb colors and pavement markings may have been there before you were. If you ask why they are the way they are, often no one knows. The purpose of the information below is to provide some ideas that might work better for your school, and to ensure that you are aware of best practices in case your parking lot and drop-off/pick-up areas are revised as the result of regular maintenance or a modernization project. If the current configuration is working for you, it need not be changed, but if it is not, please contact Safe Schools to help you come up with a better design.
Please do not ask Maintenance & Operations to change curb colors without also contacting Safe Schools. It may also be necessary to talk with Sac Metro Fire.
A red curb with the words ‘Fire Lane – No Parking’ stenciled on is an official fire lane marking and must be retained, except for the combined fire lane and drop-off/pick-up lane configuration shown below. Though the words are ‘no parking’, the actual meaning is no standing, stopping or parking. If this is also your drop-off/pick-up area, it is OK for drivers to be waiting in their cars along the curb, but not for them to get out of their cars. Sac Metro Fire accepts this use though it is not technically legal. Your curb may be yellow. This is a commercial loading zone marking, but is often used for bus zones and general drop-off/pick-up. It is best reserved for school buses – yellow school bus/yellow curb. Your curb may be white. This is the correct color for drop-off/pick-up.
If your school requests that Kindergarten parents walk their children to and from the classroom, then a red curb fire lane is not the right place for their vehicle. They will have to park in parking spots or along other curbs that are not fire lanes.
These diagrams show configurations for a shared fire lane and drop-off/pick-up lane, the first with a curb on the left side, and the second with parking on the left side. Though you will often hear that Sac Metro Fire’s requirements are the reason fire lanes are the way they are, their requirements are actually less than the Division of the State Architect’s (DSA) requirements, which are DSA_PL_07-03.
So, now that you know that no one should be parking along a fire lane red curb, what are people to do who need to park for short business with the school office? At many schools, all the parking spots close to the office are occupied all day long with staff. We recommend providing short-term parking spaces in close proximity to the office in order to give people an alternative to parking illegally. About one spot per 200 students, up through 8th grade, seems to be about right, but it varies with the school. Put in one spot to begin with, and add spots as need and your capacity dictate. The spot should have signing as shown at right, with the times adjusted for your school schedule. Though we have tried shorter and longer time limits, 20 minutes seems to be the ideal. It may also help to stripe the spot in green, to emphasize that these are different spots, in the same way that handicapped spots are striped blue. The district does not have any dedicated funding for this signing, and though it certainly doesn’t hurt to request it, you may need to use your own school funding.
Each school has unique arrival and dismissal procedures and documents. Some are well documented, with up-to-date text and diagrams, others not so. Whatever documents are available should be posted on, or linked from, the school safety page. It should also be in the school manual or packet. Various parts of the documents are good candidates for ongoing communication with parents, via calls and newsletters.
The document below is a general arrival/dismissal document that can be modified for each school. It is important that your document include both general guidance for good behavior and safety, and specific guidance for the physical layout and establish procedure at your school. Diagrams really help the parent drivers who are visual learners.
general-drop-off-procedures (Word .docx)
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has a new publication specifically on arrival and dismissal, Keep Calm and Carry on to School: Improving Arrival and Dismissal for Walking and Biking.