School Transport - Safety and behaviour

Tips on how to keep children safe on school transport.

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Getting on the bus

Children

  • Wait in the designated place or in a clear zone (with no hazards like power poles, drains, or trees), off the sealed road, and well back from the road.
  • Wait until the bus has stopped and the door open before getting on.

Caregivers

  • Stick to the speed limit (20km per hour when passing a school bus on either side of the road).
  • Try to eliminate the need for children to cross the road, or get out of the car in to passing traffic. 
  • Take children to and from the bus-stop.
  • Teach children not to run across the road.

Schools

  • Have a process for safely getting children on the bus (the police, NZ Transport Agency, or the transport service provider can help).
  • Use a traffic management plan.
  • Supervise loading, and ensure children are assembled in the safe area for loading.
  • Assist the driver to move safely through the loading zone (like a traffic controller).
  • Teach children how to get on the bus safely.
  • Choose a safe bus-stop location (with the help of the transport service provider).
  • Remind caregivers that the speed limit when passing a bus while it is stopped is 20km per hour (either side of the road).
  • Teach children how to safely store bags (on laps, or under seat in front).

Drivers

  • Pick up children on the left-hand side of the road (if possible).
  • Ensure school bus signs are displayed when students are on the bus.
  • Check mirrors before closing doors in case someone's in the way. 
  • Check all passengers are seated before departing (if seats are available).
  • Avoid reversing as much as possible.
  • Wait for the all-clear from the duty teacher before departing on the home run.

On the bus

Children

  • Carry bags so they don't get caught in the door.
  • Put bags on laps, or under the seat in front.
  • If seated, stay seated.
  • If there's nowhere to sit, stand at as far down the bus as possible, wear or carry bags, and hold on to a seat-back or handrail.
  • Stay behind the driver at all times.
  • Don't push or move around the bus.
  • Don't eat or drink.
  • Don't throw things inside or out of the bus.
  • Don't poke arms, legs or head out the window.
  • Be polite to the driver and the other children.
  • Respect the transport service provider’s, and other children's property.
  • Listen to the driver and duty teacher's instructions.

Caregivers

  • Teach children about good behaviour on buses

Schools

  • Teach children how to safely store bags (on laps, or under seat in front, or carry bags if standing).
  • Teach children safe behaviour while travelling on the bus.

Drivers

  • Do not remove children from the bus for misbehaviour. In extreme circumstances, call the depot and follow the transport service provider's procedures (which may include calling the police).
  • Report inappropriate behaviour to the transport service provider (who will contact the bus controller or school)

Getting off the bus

Children

  • Wait until the bus has stopped.
  • Carry bags in front, so they don't get stuck in the door.
  • Get off the bus through the front door (if possible).
  • Don't push.
  • To cross the road, find a safe place, wait until the bus has moved away so you can see clearly in both directions, and then cross.
  • If not crossing the road, stay as far left from the roadside as possible.
  • Wear a fluorescent band (especially early in the morning or late afternoon), if bands are available.

Caregivers

  • Take the children to and from the bus-stop
  • Teach children how to get off the bus safely
  • Stick to the speed limit (20km per hour when passing a school bus on either side of the road).
  • Try to eliminate the need for children to cross the road, or get out of the car in to passing traffic. 

Schools

  • Use a traffic management plan.
  • Assist the driver to move safely through the loading zone (like a traffic controller).
  • Teach children how to get off the bus safely (for example, where they need to go after getting off the bus).
  • Choose a safe bus-stop location (with the help of the transport service provider).
  • Remind caregivers that the speed limit when passing a bus while it is stopped is 20km per hour (either side of the road).

Drivers

  • Set down children on the left-hand side of the road.
  • Wait for the all-clear from the duty teacher before departing on the home run.
  • Display school bus signs when students are on board.
  • Check all mirrors before closing the doors, to make sure no one is in the way.
  • Check that all passengers a seated before departing (if seats are available)
  • Avoid reversing as best as possible

Behaviour problems

Schools should work with the transport service provider, caregivers and, if necessary, the police to manage student behaviour on buses.

Ongoing problems

Students are expected to comply with the code of conduct of the transport service provider.

If a student behaves inappropriately or unsafely, the school will take steps to manage this behaviour, and the student could lose their place on the school bus (temporarily or permanently).

If a student loses their place on the school bus, the caregiver needs to ensure they're meeting their legal obligation to get their child to school. Caregivers are not entitled to a Conveyance Allowance in this situation.

Schools can choose to have a Code of Conduct signed by the student, their caregiver, the school, and the transport service provider.

Download a sample Code of Conduct:

Children can't be kicked off the bus

If a student is misbehaving on a bus, the driver can't pull over and remove them from the bus.

The driver has to finish the route and deliver all the students to their usual stops.

In extreme cases, if the driver decides it isn't safe to continue, they can pull over, call their employer, and then follow their employer's procedures (which may include calling the police).

Create or improve bus procedures

A bus procedure can help clarify behavioural expectations for students, and roles and responsibilities for school staff and transport service providers.

What goes into a bus procedure?

  1. Behavioural expectations of students using buses
  2. The roles of each party when unsafe or inappropriate behaviour occurs
  3. Consequences of unsafe or inappropriate behaviour
  4. Provision to introduce a Code of Conduct when required

Driver checking

All drivers are licensed to carry passengers (they have a 'passenger endorsement'), have passed a 'fit and proper person check', and have been vetted as required by the Vulnerable Children Act 2014.

Find out more about licence endorsements on the NZTA website:

Find out more about the Vulnerable Children Act here:

Standing and seatbelts

Standing

Children are allowed to stand on school buses.

The New Zealand Transport Agency determines the loading limit for every passenger service vehicle, including the number of standing passengers.

This limit is specified in the vehicle's Certificate of Loading. Transport service providers are responsible for ensuring that they don't exceed loading limits.

Seatbelts

Not all school buses have to have seatbelts. But if there are seatbelts, they must be used.

Vehicle safety

Drivers

  • Check the vehicle before each trip to make sure it is safe. 
  • Check vehicle loading limits.

New Zealand Transport Agency

  • Sets vehicle standards.
  • Identifies issues on vehicle design, construction and maintenance.
  • Checks vehicles for safety (with vehicle inspection agents and police).
  • Issues/declines passenger service licenses, which are required for all school transport service providers.
  • Monitors school transport service providers to ensure they meet legislative criteria.
  • Advises the Minister of Transport on transport safety matters and helps draft transport law.
  • Works with police to produce guidelines and training for school traffic safety teams.
  • Participates in transport service provider tendering evaluation, as well as identifying vehicles and/or operators with unsafe history.

New Zealand Police Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit

  • Polices all aspects of commercial vehicle use including vehicle and driver fitness, driving hours and logbooks.
  • Administers road user charges as they apply to vehicle, road, bridge limits and vehicle dimensions.
  • Attends and reports on commercial vehicle accidents or incidents.

Safety checks by the Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education will:

  • Visit transport service providers at least once every two years to monitor contractual and legislative safety requirements.
  • Contact transport service providers at least once a year to discuss operational issues.
  • Communicate with schools regularly to stay informed of any operational or safety concerns.

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