Forget about plain old road rage, the kind that happens when someone doesn’t let you in, or switches lanes without signaling, or when you’re stuck in traffic for hours. The worst kind of road rage is ‘School Pick Up and Drop off Rage.’
If you’ve ever driven your children to and from school, you’ve probably seen, if not experienced, this unique brand of road rage.
Last year, from both my son’s and daughter’s school, I received numerous e-mails throughout the year about parents behaving badly at pick up and drop off.
‘We have had increasing difficulty with the traffic around our school’, said one e-mail. ‘In addition to blocking neighbours’ driveways, our school buses are being significantly delayed because many parents are parking in the bus loading zone. This is not just an inconvenience to many others, it poses safety risks as well.’ The email continued: ‘This week we have received calls from several of our neighbours complaining about the traffic and having to ask parents to move from the end of their driveways.’ A friend of mine, who does live across from a school, has complained about this to me before. Once, she had to wait almost twenty minutes just to get out of her driveway to get to work because the traffic was so congested.
‘I’m embarrassed to hear that some of our parents have responded rudely to these requests,’ that e-mailed continued. ‘We have asked our parent community to be respectful of this in the past. Please think of others and ALL of our children. Our neighbours should not have to deal with those who ignore the rules and put others at risk and inconvenience.’
And, from my other child’s school? ‘I’d like to remind everyone that the adults who surround the students at school, parents, teachers, and staff, have a responsibility to model the values and behaviour we expect of them. Alas, there are times during moments of frustration that we may be overcome with impatience and stop thinking clearly.’ The e-mail continued, ‘I have witnessed some dangerous incidents…such as illegal parking, pulling into oncoming traffic or stopping in spaces that are not designated for cars at all. I’ve also witnessed some aggressive behaviour towards our personnel who are trying to keep things moving. This, of course, is unacceptable.’
Yes, we can walk our children to school, or send them on bikes, but this isn’t always an option. To make matters even more insane, we parents may also find ourselves in trouble with the school principal, as if we were children who picked a fight on the playground. It is a little weird to be scolded as an adult, and part of the problem is that we don’t really care. We pretend to care, but the proof is in the cafeteria pudding. Schools and parents may hate to hear this, but at Drop Off and Pick Up, parents will continue to act like children having tantrums if we don’t get our way. Also, there isn’t any empathy, no matter how many scolding e-mails parents get. There just isn’t.
Parents at these hours turn into children who SHOULD be reprimanded, but in our heads, I can tell you that we’re probably all thinking the same thing. ‘I’m just going to park here for two seconds!’ And, ‘Yes, this is an illegal parking spot, but I’m just going to be here for two seconds!’ Even, ‘I’m pretty positive that a car could drive around me, but even if they can’t, I’m just going to be here for two seconds.’
I’ve been doing drop off and pick ups for my daughter for years, and my son for two years, and once saw two identical white SUVs have a fender bender when pulling up to the school. The drivers had a heated argument, also right outside the school, while the lineup of cars to drop kids just got longer and longer. (I so wish I had taken a video of this. It was Drop off Road Rage at its best…or worst.)
For most parents, pick up and drop off is frustrating—the congestion around the school can be akin to the 401 on a holiday weekend. So what does a frustrated parent, who is also in a rush, to do?
I’ve found a way around all the rage, not because I care what other parents do (I get as annoyed as anyone else, but I’m not going to yell at another parent, because it could very well be a dear friend who is holding up the line) but because watching parents honking, yelling at each other, and trying to get around the other cars puts me in a mood. One e-mail from a school ended with, ‘I must implore you to consider your role in this and help us keep the students safe’.
Here are a few tips I’ve found useful for avoiding School Road Rage:
- Always arrive at school early. There will be fewer vehicles.
- Pick a meeting spot with your child that is a few blocks away from the school. You can park and wait for your child to meet you there. Yes, they can walk that extra five minutes.
- If you’re comfortable, make your child walk/ride their bikes/scooter to school. Then you won’t have to deal with Road Rage first thing in the morning.
- I would say ‘consider others’ however, really, it doesn’t seem to work.
- That’s all I’ve got. Because I can’t figure out, either, how to come up with a Pick-Up/Drop Off, solution either.
I know many of you have pick-up/drop-off road rage experiences, especially if you live across from a school, and we’d love to hear your stories!