Traffic troubles in Montgomery County as more parents drive kids to school

Police say it’s a perfect storm. A new school year, a bus driver shortage and more parents driving their kids due to COVID-19 has caused a traffic nightmare around some Montgomery County schools.

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It’s not just impacting parents, but other drivers when school traffic spills out onto public roads during drop-off and pick-up.

SKYFOX Drone was overhead at Clarksburg Elementary Tuesday afternoon as traffic snaked for 1000 feet down the road to the school and eventually on to Route 355.

Buses were forced around the line on the wrong side of the road and the school‘s principal directed traffic.

"It’s been pretty horrible," said Michaela Knick, who was waiting to pick up her child.

Parents said they typically wait 30 minutes to an hour for pick up and drop off.

Clarksburg Elementary now has about 800 students in a school meant for 300. But police say the traffic issue is something they’re seeing countywide.

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"A variety of factors has kind of created what I would consider the perfect storm," says Montgomery Co. Police Cpt. Stacey Flynn.

FOX 5 also spoke to drivers near Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. One described traffic as "chaotic" and another said it typically takes 30 minutes to get through three lights leading up to the school.

Flynn says far more parents are driving their kids due bus issues and the pandemic and it doesn’t help the county eliminated school resource officers this year. In the past, Flynn said they assisted with traffic.

"They’d be outside in front of the school with their safety vests on in under a minute directing traffic," Flynn said.

Now both schools and parents have been calling police for help. Flynn says when officers respond, they’re doing safety assessments and making recommendations for improvements.

The principal at Clarksburg said he’s working on some new signage and staying in close communication with parents. Multiple parents said Tuesday that traffic conditions have improved dramatically from the start of the school year.

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"I think they’re doing the best they can," said parent Allison Simons.

Police say they’re seeing parents do pick ups and drop offs a block or two away from schools to avoid traffic. They are advising people not to do this for safety reasons and encouraging patience.

"I know it’s frustrating right now," said Flynn. "I know that building extra time into your schedule, perhaps even going into work a bit later is not easy for a parent. But in light of the fact that the circumstances are what they are, we just need the parents be patient and work with us and just try to make it the best situation they can for everybody involved."