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School patrol students with police officer and adult supervisor.

As an important part of the community, your school has a vital role in helping your students to stay safe – and that includes on their journeys to and from school.

Having a school traffic safety team goes a long way to achieving this.

Run by responsible volunteer students and supervised by adults, a school traffic safety team provides an invaluable service for school children crossing roads near your school and taking the school bus.

It’s a significant responsibility that requires an equally significant commitment, but it pays enormous dividends for the school children, their parents and caregivers and the community as a whole.

1.1 A partnership approach

Your school traffic safety team is a partnership between your students, principal, board of trustees and teachers, the school community, New Zealand Police and the local authority or NZ Transport Agency responsible for controlling the roads in your area (the ‘road controlling authority’).

Schools aren’t legally required to operate school traffic safety teams, but many do so as part of their partnerships with local communities to ensure children’s safety on the way to and from school.

If your school operates any kind of school traffic safety team, it needs to do so in accordance with the requirements identified in this manual.

The partnership starts when you agree to work together to decide on the type of traffic safety team that’s right for your school – one that suits the amount of traffic going past, the types of intersection around the school and your student roll and make-up.

It extends to the provision of signs and road markings by the road controlling authority, and uniforms and a comprehensive training programme provided by New Zealand Police (which is compulsory for all school patrols and wardens). It also includes day-to-day support from your police school community officer, who can help you to address and resolve any challenges that come your way.

1.2 About this manual

This manual is designed for use in conjunction with the police training programme. It’s also useful for monitoring and evaluating your school traffic safety team, for reporting to senior staff and the board of trustees on the effectiveness of your team, and for planning student activities focused on traffic safety. It should complement your work in meeting the National administration guidelines, and fit with other school policies and child safety initiatives such as walking school buses and school travel plans.

If you have any questions or concerns about this manual – or about your school traffic safety team operation – please contact your police school community officer. They’ll work with you and the other partners to develop a solution that works for your school.

With the best possible intentions, this manual meets the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

If your school operates any kind of school traffic safety team, it needs to do so in accordance with the requirements identified in this manual.

1.3 What is a school traffic safety team?

School traffic safety teams include any or all of:

  • school patrols, who help pedestrians at pedestrian crossings (sometimes called zebra crossings) and school crossing points (called kea crossings). School patrols control traffic as well as pedestrians
  • school wardens (sometimes called traffic wardens), who help pedestrians at less busy crossings. School wardens aren’t allowed to step into the road, stop or control traffic
  • bus wardens, who supervise children travelling to and from school on bus services that either your school provides or are provided under contract by the Ministry of Education
  • adults who help and support students to fulfil these duties.


School patrols were first established by American automobile clubs in the late 1920s, in response to concerns about crashes involving children on their way to and from school.

New Zealand’s first school patrols began in the early 1930s.

Initially, patrol members carried red pennants mounted on short staffs and had no control over traffic. However, the rapid growth in school patrols led to a need for national standardisation, as well as a clear statement of patrol duties and the obligations of drivers and pedestrians.

In 1944, New Zealand’s first school patrol legislation was passed. Uniforms were standardised and warning devices were updated in 1961.

Today, more than 23,000 students take part in school traffic safety teams throughout New Zealand. They have an outstanding track record in ensuring school children’s safety on the roads – a record that your school can help to maintain.


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