Why Are People So Bad At School Parking?

Regular Lifehacker editor Gus notably doesn't drive… but I do, and I'm not above ranting a little about it. Here's my particular pet peeve — what's yours?

Picture by sourabhj I should say that it's notable that Gus doesn't drive; not that I hold it up as some form of exceptional behavior on his part; it's a choice, nothing less.

Which brings me neatly into the fact that I do drive, and so I can comment on driving as a Lifehacker exercise. Not so much in the realms of hyper-fuel efficiency (I drive a near 20 year old slightly dented sedan), but in the way that we, as road users, approach the most fundamental of driving tasks — parking. In particular, parking at schools to pick up kids.

That's something I do on an increasing number of days; while I live close enough to my kids school that walking is feasible (and indeed rather pleasant), there are days when I need the car to perform other tasks afterwards, and so I hop in to go and pick them up. This typically doesn't involve parking all that close to the school, because there's a lot of other parents with the exact same need. I can totally deal with that; until we invent self-stacking cars there's only so much space to get along. Plus, it's a pleasant walk back to where the car is — or at least that's my theory.

It seems as though that's not the view held by everyone though; over the years I've seen quite literally countless examples of not only terrible parking (the middle of the road is NOT a parking place) but outright thoughtlessness. I don't live that close to the school that people park near me, but I'd offer the tip that if you are considering buying a house close to schools, carefully assess what happens to the roads around 9am and 3pm each day. Chances are, somebody's going to park straight across your driveway; sometimes they'll stay there for up to 30 minutes. That's when they're not screeching at each other to get out of the way, parking each other in, blindly swerving out into traffic or driving in such a way as to suggest that they're actually involved in some kind of sport that involves deliberately squishing seven year olds.

I should take a breath here and point out that not every school pickup driver I observe is like that; it'd be chaos if it had even 50 per cent saturation. But there's certainly a significant (and dangerous) block of them. I can't even really call it 'trivial', because I've seen some incredibly narrow escapes. I don't care what happens to somebody's car — it's just a chunk of metal and plastic after all — but the prospect of actually hitting somebody genuinely terrifies me.

Anyway, that's my pet peeve with Australian driving habits, and something that everyone who has to park around a school should pay more attention to. What's yours?


    Great to see the new penalties coming in. Not only $300+ fines but up to 3 demerit points for illegal activities in school zones for motorists. Double parking, parking in no parking, speeding, not giving way. Now lets hope the police actually show up to hand out the fines.

      My is 40 zones - teach kids to cross the street - bring back Hector the road safetyy cat - my generation didn;t need 40 zones becuase we knew to "stop at the curb... Look to right..." etc.

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            And kids still died in school zones then - hence the Hector road safety campaign which improved things, but didn't solve the problem.... suck it up princess, so you have to do 40 #firstworldproblems

              Yeah, the past was better. They used to send kids down the mines too. It was better because the kids were smaller and could fit into smaller holes. Hardly any of them died of mining accidents. We should go back to the past. Things were always better there. Certainly they were much better when they didn't involve having to slow down by up to 20km/h for sometimes one whole kilometre, and increasing driving times by anywhere up to 20 whole seconds. I can understand why people would feel put out by this nanny-state behaviour that puts children's welfare before 20seconds of adult time.

    Additional to above is the people who seem to think that just because they have their hazard lights on, they can park wherever they happen to feel like it... however going from one instance of using indicators when its inappropriate, people also seem to not use them the rest of the time... indicating generally seems to be optional on Sydney roads these days... More often than not, people slow right down for no apparent reason, then at the last minute stick the indicator on as they go around a corner... if they even use it at all...

      I've always followed the guideline of indicating before braking - that way when you brake, the car behind already knows what you are intending to do.

    It is ironic that kids are driven to school because of (partly) road safety fears, but in doing so parents collectively make the roads around schools less safe.

    My biggest pet peeve whilst driving is people who sneek in between cares 2 second gap when its totally unsafe to causing you to slow down and at times press heavy on your breaks to allow them in thus causing it to flow down the chain of cars.. even worse when there's plenty of room behind you.. cept they decide they want to be between you and the car in front. The other bad thing is people who tail gate.. ITS DANGEROUS BIG TIME! and people just seem to love doing it.. If you have to slow down all of a sudden and they don't see.. they can be cm's from you cuz they mostly don't seem to pay attention to their driving as it is.

    Because they have a sense of entitlement, or the "quick" excuse ("I'm just dropping off my child real quick", "I pay the school fees, so I'm entitled to..") and excuuuuuuuussse me if you want to get through because you're late for a meeting.

    Where I work (a school on a service road adjoining a main road) I deal with all sorts -- parents who just pull into spots without indicating, people stopping "to let my kids out real quick", children running in front of cars because "they stop for you anyway" and other ridiculous BS.

    Somebody tell these parents that they're not entitled to anything just for having children, and tell these children there is consequences for their actions.

    People not keeping left, and not watching out for motorcycles (I.e. me).

    One of my pet peeves is that a large percent of Australians can't read numbers, they really need to check if a person can read numbers when they take their driving tests! I see this all the time on the road, about 80% or more people speeding down the road, it's like they aren't even aware there's a speed limit in place!

      I see to many people going way to slow, speed limit will be 80km on the bridge and people are doing 60-65k, if you are a good driver you can drive fast. Sorry. Use your mirrors and you wont crash.

        Mmm, I get ticked off at people for driving too slow as well, I do fine driving at the speed limit usually, but maybe it's their age and they just have trouble seeing?

        I see too many people down here in Canberra who think that if the speed limit is 80kmh than they can do that speed regardless of the conditions. Rather then getting upset at people driving under the speed limit, try driving to the conditions.

          Doing 20kmh+ under the speed limit on a clear sunny day with little traffic is driving to the conditions??

          While yes in heavy rain/fog people should slow down, allot of motorists seem to not be able to stick to a constant speed.

    I hate people who pay way to much attension to their GPS rather than the road, they go to slow have their blinker on not sure if it's this street or the next. Sorry but i see this every time i drive, fucking look at the map before you leave home!

    This is not so much a pet peeve as something I always see and it just makes me laugh (in a sad kind of way): in the suburbs (Sydney) when a car is weaving in and out of traffic and speeding and creating all sorts of potentially dangerous situations to try and get somewhere faster and then I pull up next to them (sometimes even in front) at the next set of traffic lights (when I've stuck to the speed limit and just chosen my lane when there is less traffic in it/it's moving faster). Then they take off again and the process begins all over again

    Didn't get this as much in UK but here it seems the majority think they're going to be the next stock car champion. What I mean is people going up the rear end of the car and it's as if they aren't going to back off or won't have the reaction time to brake when I do.
    But then I realised they're going to be NASCAR champs by the next season so their reaction times must be superior

    Have a cry. Next you'll be telling me how much traffic there is. .. Cant believe you get paid to write about your daily rants. Suck it up princesses

    BTW Alex if your still driving a 20 year old car at your age, maybe its time to find a better job.

      Or maybe I have different priorities than spending too much money on a vehicle to get me from a) to b). Not everyone has to have a new car every year...

      What about you? Your saying he is ranting but aren't you doing the same thing? He was also pointing out serious safety concerns as well as what message it sends to Childeren.

    I'm a ranger and have to deal with school parking on a daily basis and soccer moms are the worst. Lady parked in front on a fire hydrant with a no parking right in front of me with my ticket book, called her back she ignored me so gave her ticket. Saw her a few minutes later she parked in the middle of the road ran out and tried to choke me in front of her kids for giving her a ticket. Most of the time its the parents who ring up to complain about other parents illegal parking. We tell the illegal person to move then the mother that complained parks in the same spot and says you cant ticket me I was the person that rang. So you cant break the law just because you pointed out someone else. Rant over.

    I too don't drive. So my pet peeve is motorists who seem to think that because there isn't another vehicle in sight (just a pedestrian or two) they don't need to indicate when turning at an intersection. Not so drivers. Pedestrians also pay attention to your indicator lights, especially when making decisions about crossing roads at locations where there aren't lights or formal crossings.

    I live near a school and I want to tear them limb from limb sometimes. I remember one particular time i was trying to drive down my street a two mothers were standing in the middle of the street talking and they wouldn't move off the road when i tried to drive through. Another time a parent had parked a car across a blind corner and I was on my motorbike I was forced onto the wrong side of the road and nearly had a head on crash with another parent that was speeding.

    1. people who subconsciously or deliberately speed up once you start overtaking. you could be gaining on these people at a consistent rate for minutes but the second you pull out to overtake they counteract it.
    2. people who can't hold a consistent speed to save their life - i use cruise control a lot and when you see people overtaking you and then falling behind you over and over during a journey you can't help but laugh but also be worried if they are competent
    3. people who actively prevent you from changing lanes as soon as your indicator comes on - there was ample room before the indicator went on, why the f*** do they speed up to close the gap?

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