Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Parking Lot Safety

parking lot

One of the most dangerous spots at school is the parking lot. In fact, the National Highway Safety Administration listed parking lots as the most common area for injuries for pedestrians under the age of 12 in the report “Traffic Safety Facts 2008: Pedestrians.”

Student Drop-off and Pick-up Safety

As you can imagine, there are many ways a drop-off and pick-up zone can become dangerous for children. There are several ways to make the process much safer, such as striping, safety cones, signs, supervision, and enforcement.

There are many other tools that can be used to improve the safety and efficiency of this process at schools including:

  • Encourage walking, bicycling, and carpooling.
  • Separate motor vehicles from pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Add a drop-off lane and pick-up lane.
  • Offer assistance for students who are both exiting and entering motor vehicles.

Curb Striping and Other Pavement Markings

This method can be very beneficial to protect students in the school parking lot. Curb striping or painting can be used in drop-off and pick-up zones to clarify parking and other curb rules. Let’s take a closer look at what each color means.

White (or no color)

Parking allowed unless restricted or limited by signs.


Parking for the disabled only. Drivers must have a disabled parking permit visible, either hanging from the rear view mirror or on the license plate.


Parking is allowed for a short time. This time is usually shown on a sign next to the green zone, or it may be painted on the curb.


Stop only long enough to load or unload passengers. Drivers are usually required to stay with their vehicle



No parking. Red curb may also be used in NO STOPPING or NO STANDING zones. A bus may stop at a red zone marked for buses. Red is also used to designate fire lanes at schools.

In some instances, it may be beneficial to stripe out the loading area, both for the driver and for waiting students. Some schools choose to stripe the path the drivers are supposed to follow. Other schools tend to use pavement arrows and stencils to designate circulation patterns and where loading should happen.



Signs help define areas in drop-off and pick-up zones and explain their proper use. Signs should be standard, highly visible, properly installed, and well-maintained.

Remember, some signs can be confusing if improperly placed or poorly worded. Signs with fewer words are easier to read and understand. Standard signs should be used on school property and in the surrounding area for regulating and guiding traffic. A local traffic engineer can recommend appropriate signs and their placement.

Educating parents about proper parking lot procedures is necessary.


Educating parents and students about the proper drop-off and pick-up procedure at your school is necessary to develop both a safe and efficient system.

There are several ways to educate about the procedure. For example, regular reminders of the procedure from school officials to parents is just one way to keep them informed. Maps of the drop-off and pick-up area with traffic flow patterns are very helpful as well.

Some schools hold traffic safety days to provide students and parents with useful information. Drivers are reminded of traffic safety principles and the policies and procedures at drop-off and pick-up.

Monitoring and Enforcement

Enforcement of drop-off and pick-up rules is important to create a safe drop-off and pick-up environment. A variety of people should enforce the drop-off and pick-up policies, such as law enforcement officers, school personnel or parent volunteers. When new drop-off and pick-up plans are implemented, administrators can ask for help from law enforcement officers. They can ensure traffic flows smoothly during the first few days. Implementing a new plan may also require more volunteers or monitors to regulate parking lot activity in the first few days. A new drop-off plan should start either at the start of the school year or after a break. Administrators need to give sufficient notice to parents and students before a new plan starts.

In conclusion, improving the drop-off and pick-up process at your school will constantly keep students safer. Let’s take a look at parking lot design in the next tab.

Site Design

It is important to create a space that is a safe area for vehicles and students during pick-up and drop-off. Parking lots should be created to handle the high traffic during the busiest times of unloading and loading at the beginning and end of each day. During other times, these areas may be empty and unsupervised.

The safety and security of the parking lot area are dependant on the following components:

  1. Parking lots should not be separated from the school, but near visual surveillance from classrooms and administration areas.
  2. Classrooms should have windows that overlook the vehicular routes. You might want to consider installing surveillance cameras.
  3. External access to parking areas should be restricted to a limited number of controlled entrances.
  4. Parking and vehicular routes should be lit with vandal proof lighting.

The entry drive should also have sufficient space for lanes coming in and out. If possible, it should be separated by a landscaped median. Issues of security and safety will also affect the design and configuration of a school parking lot. Try and avoid using loose gravel or crushed rock for surfacing because spinning tires will toss projectiles and can damage other vehicles and potentially injure pedestrians.

One entry is preferred to maintain control over vehicles entering and leaving the parking lot. This is especially true for school events that may restrict parking to certain people. However, if two entries are necessary, they should be close enough so one person can monitor both entrances. If not, two people will be needed.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. This curb striping color means you can park there unless it is restricted or limited by signs.

2. A _____ stripe on the curb means parking is allowed for a short time.

3. When should you use more volunteers to monitor and regulate pickup/drop-off locations?

4. How many entries should there be in a pickup/drop-off lane?

5. When the curb is ______, you are only allowed to stop only long enough to load or unload passengers.

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.