School patrols help to keep students safe on the road by controlling the flow of vehicles and pedestrians at pedestrian crossings and ‘kea’ crossings (school crossing points).
Operating before and after school, patrol members extend STOP signs onto the road in both directions, which signal approaching drivers to stop. Once the traffic is slowing or has stopped, the patrol signals to waiting pedestrians that it’s safe to cross the road.
Each duty patrol is typically made up of two students (with one designated the leader) and a supervising adult.
Before a school patrol can operate, all team members need to have been trained by a police school community officer, and supervisors inducted on the procedures.
What’s a pedestrian crossing?
A pedestrian crossing is made up of:
- white stripes that run parallel to the road line
- poles on each roadside marked with black and white stripes, topped with orange globes or discs
- roadside warning signs on each approach to the crossing
- (optional) diamonds on the roadway, on approaches to the crossing
- vehicle ‘hold lines’ on the road at the crossing point.
What’s a kea crossing?
Kea crossings (or school crossing points) are used at places with low to moderate traffic levels, often where only school children cross. During non-patrol times, the roads revert to being uncontrolled, so pedestrians crossing them have to give way to vehicles.
A kea crossing is made up of:
- kerb extensions at each roadside
- vehicle ‘hold lines’ on the road at the crossing point
- poles to hold the flags and signs.
3.1 DO YOU NEED A SCHOOL PATROL?
A school patrol is the most commonly recognised way that schools manage road safety for students near the schools. However, it isn’t always the most appropriate solution, or even achievable. For example, rural schools in open-road speed zones may find that school patrols are not a realistic option.
3.2 SETTING UP YOUR SCHOOL PATROL
Setting up a school patrol starts with the principal working with the road controlling authority and New Zealand Police to establish whether it’s appropriate and, if so, what form it will take.
If the road controlling authority approves a crossing, it will provide the board of trustees with an ‘authority to operate’ the patrol. Usually the principal is delegated to organise the patrol operation through a supervising teacher. This teacher then:
- chooses the school patrol members and supervisors
- gets signed permission from their parents or caregivers (download a template letter)
- establishes rosters for the patrol members and supervisors
- contacts the school community officer to arrange training for the patrol members and to support induction of supervisors (see Training your school traffic safety team)
- manages and operates the patrols to ensure they operate according to the standards in which they’ve been trained by the school community officer.
Choose 15 members for each patrol and/or group of school wardens, and use the same team all year to ensure that everyone has time to become confident and competent. This allows for two patrol members per day and five reserves.
The school community officer may request more than this number if a crossing requires more than two members to operate safely. This could be because of unique situations such as the proximity of intersections or the undulation of the roadway restricting visibility.
If people leave the patrol, contact your school community officer to arrange training for new recruits.
3.2.1 Choosing your school patrol members
It’s important to have the right students on your school patrol team – they are role models for other students and responsible for ensuring the safety of others.
Be careful to choose students who:
- are reliable and punctual
- are comfortable about, and confident in, making decisions
- have demonstrated good judgement
- can concentrate on their tasks
- take their responsibilities seriously
- will turn up for duty on time, every time
- are willing and physically able to do the job safely (for example, to carry and manoeuvre signs, make themselves heard and are willing to do the job and manage other students firmly and respectfully).
3.2.2 The patrol leader
Each patrol has a team leader. Your police school community officer many confirm leaders during training, choosing only the most capable students for the role.
- should have the best overall view of the road in both directions
- gives all the operational commands.
3.2.3 The patrol supervisor
The patrol supervisor is a responsible adult (usually a teacher or parent) who oversees the patrol and behaviour around it. Standing close to the patrol at all times, they:
- check that it operates correctly and according to the procedures covered in the training
- monitor people at the crossing to ensure they comply with the patrol commands
- observe and report to the principal any hazards that affect the safe operation of the school traffic safety team eg incidents or near misses
- observe and formally record details of any incidents involving unsafe or illegal driver behaviour, such as parking illegally.
3.2.4 Developing rosters
When developing your rosters, try to give every patrol member a regular turn – and roster new patrol members with people who have some experience.
Give every patrol member a copy of their roster to take home, so that their parent(s) or caregiver can help to ensure they turn up on time. Supervisors should also have copies of these rosters.
You need to have a system for ensuring a replacement team member is available if a patrol member unexpectedly fails to turn up on time.
3.2.5 Establishing patrol start and finish times
The best start and finish times for your school patrol will depend on when children arrive and leave. Ideally, you should aim to have your patrol on duty 30 minutes before school starts and at least five minutes before school finishes.
3.3 YOUR SCHOOL PATROL EQUIPMENT
School patrols and traffic wardens must only use approved and authorised equipment. This will be supplied by your road controlling authority.
Patrols and wardens must not use any additional unauthorised equipment, such as smaller signs or flags to stop traffic.
School patrol equipment comprises:
- STOP signs, provided by your road controlling authority
- removable flags for kea crossings, also provided by the road controlling authority
- uniforms that clearly identify students as school traffic safety team members
- notebooks and pencils for patrol supervisors, for recording details of unsafe or illegal driver behaviour (you’ll need to provide these).
3.3.1 Signs and flags
The main school patrol signs are:
STOP signs: large red discs with the words ‘STOP SCHOOL PATROL’ in white.
They are attached to long poles with hinge brackets attached.
Usually made of aluminium, the signs are bulky but not heavy and need to be handled with care, especially in windy conditions.
kea crossing flags: lightweight, collapsible diamond-shaped flags.
Made of soft orange or red fluorescent material.
These signs are placed in posts near the kerb adjacent to the vehicle limit line so they’re visible to approaching drivers (see point B in the kea crossing specifications).
What about cones?
A school may use cones within its own property, for example to block off a gate when patrols are operating.
However, a school may not place cones in the roadway other than as a part of a formal traffic management plan approved by the road controlling authority.
If your school is having problems with illegal or inappropriate parking, or if traffic density is making it difficult for patrols to operate effectively, the principal, board of trustees, school community officer and road controlling authority need to work together to find a solution to the underlying problem. See also ‘Coping with heavy traffic and visibility problems’.
What about flags?
Patrols and wardens must not use hand-held flags to stop either traffic or pedestrians.
It is also not recommended to give children crossing the road small flags to hold, as this may distract them from crossing safely.
3.3.2 Patrol uniforms
There are two uniforms: a safety jacket for dry weather, and a waterproof safety jacket for wet weather and in low-visibility conditions. The jackets clearly identify the wearers as school traffic safety team members.
Patrol members must always wear the correct uniform while on duty.
Caring for the equipment
Please ensure that patrol members and others treat all school patrol equipment with respect.
All equipment should be stored in a dedicated area that:
- is secure
- is dry and out of direct sunlight
- has hooks for hanging up the uniforms and signs
- is easy to access.
If any equipment is damaged, lost or stolen, contact your road controlling authority (for signs or flags) or school community officer (for uniforms) and they’ll arrange for repairs or replacements. If your STOP signs or kea crossing flags are unusable, follow the guidelines for school wardens until replacements arrive.