ABU DHABI // Schools are taking a tough stance against parents who show disregard for road laws and cause traffic chaos around their grounds.
Parents and child minders who double park, stop in the middle of the road and pull up wherever they like when dropping off or picking up pupils have increased the problem in many school zones, principals have complained.
Frustrated by continued breaches, the Al Ain English Speaking School has decided to hand in photos of offenders to the police for action.
A recent letter from the principal, Mike Smith, said the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) and police were working to address the matter.
“It has been agreed by Adec that schools could ask their security guards or traffic wardens to photograph drivers who violate traffic laws and pass on this photographic evidence, with the date, time and a comment, to a named senior police officer,” Mr Smith wrote.
He said parents would receive warnings and repeat offenders would be fined by the police.
“The architecture of the roads here and the number of schools in the area are the main problem,” said Mr Smith. “Adding to that is the issue of selfish bad drivers.
“I have personally taken photographs of 10 drivers who had double-banked and illegally parked. They are causing a nuisance and endangering other people.”
He said parents had been advised in the past against such practices and this was the last straw.
Most of the school’s 1,060 pupils arrive in private vehicles.
One father of two from England, who has been driving his children to the school for five years, said: “The problems posed by the actual infrastructure of the road is compounded by drivers’ behaviour. Children can be run over.”
He said school guards had tried several times to stop drivers from breaching the rules, but in vain.
“Parents do not listen to the guards and some drive across the pavement and sand,” the father said. “It may improve if they start issuing fines.”
Al Ain Municipality and the Department of Transport last year tried staggered opening times for the 33 campuses on Khalid Bin Sultan Street, to ease traffic congestion. But many schools failed to follow the system and problems persisted.
Mohammed Shaidul, whose brother studies at The Indian School in the area, believes the different opening times helped.
“It is a little better, although near some schools it’s more troublesome because parents just stop in the middle to drop their children off,” Mr Shaidul said.
Parents said they would like to see a greater police presence.
Schools have been told that roadworks to improve conditions will start this month, but these could cause further problems.
An Adec source said the authority was working closely with schools in the area to reduce congestion.
“Adec manual provides guidance for schools and mandates them to have supervisors at drop off and pick up areas,” the source said.
School inspectors told of similar concerns in Dubai.
At Al Shorouq Private School, the Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau saw an improvement at pick-up and drop-off times but noted many parents and minders did not want to follow regulations.
An Arab mother of two children at the International School of Choueifat in Dubai said there was a guard outside but it was not enough.
“It is mismanaged and very chaotic there,” she said. “Parents tend to stop in front of the gate and cause backlogs.”
Clive Pierrepont, director of communications at Taaleem, which operates a dozen schools in Dubai and the Raha International School in Abu Dhabi, said many problems were caused by drivers employed by families.
“They do not come from a culture of safe parking, patience on the roads, queuing, and wish to drop their charges off as near to the school gates as possible,” said Mr Pierrepont.
The Greenfield Community School is working with officials managing Dubai Investment Park and police to find the best solution to parking problems and for passing on the message to parents.
The Uptown School in Dubai has staggered pick-up times for different grade groups to reduce congestion.
“We encourage parents not to get out of cars but to allow staff to provide what could best be referred to as a valet service for their children,” said Tim Waley, the principal.
“Three essential traits for school car park use – driver common sense, courtesy and patience – will alleviate most areas of difficulty.”