It’s back to school time, which means more cars and pedestrians during the morning commute. Despite the decline in students bicycling and walking to school, more than 40% of all trips in the United States are less than two miles. According to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, in 2009, American families drove 30 billion miles and made 6.5 billion trips to take their children to and from school—that’s 14% of traffic on the road in the a.m.!
To ensure the safety of our kids year round, a lot of studies happen behind the scenes. Traffic impact analysis and studies optimize safety for pedestrians and vehicles alike. When it comes to schools, the national trend proves that new, larger schools are being built to meet the rising enrollment demands for all ages and classes. School location is often selected based on available land, which is typically in remote, rural areas with little access to sidewalks or acceptable bike routes for children.
It is becoming increasingly more important for traffic engineers to be involved early in the school planning process. Traffic engineers are experienced in reviewing school site plans to evaluate internal traffic operations and appropriate configurations to maximize efficiency, create circulation contingency plans and most importantly improve safety for pedestrians and vehicles. Internal site circulation reviews can also be done for existing schools to determine if changes need to be made for safer routes to school.
MSA’s Kevin Ruhland, PE, provides a wide range of traffic engineering services for state, local and private clients. Contact Kevin for more information on improving school zone safety in your community.