Traffic management at schools

Advice on managing traffic congestion, developing a system for dropping off and picking up students, and resources to help manage traffic at your school.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Teachers
  • Proprietors
  • Whānau/Family
  • Parents/caregivers
  • Regulator (WorkSafe & NZTA)
  • Local road control authority

Boards need to manage traffic flows, particularly around the time students are dropped off and picked up. Encouraging students to use other ways of travelling to school, such as walking and cycling, helps reduce congestion. You will need a travel plan to make sure everyone is safe and traffic can move smoothly.

Manage traffic congestion at schools

One of the best ways to ease traffic congestion is to reduce vehicular traffic.

Encourage students, caregivers and staff to come to school by:

  • walking
  • cycling
  • scooting
  • public transport
  • school bus
  • using a walking school bus
  • car pooling.

For more information visit the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) website(external link).

Develop a travel plan

Put together a travel plan to manage traffic. The plan should address:

  • how traffic moves in and around the school
  • where vehicles can park
  • how pedestrians are kept safe.

Involve the community in developing the plan. It will get people thinking about ways to reduce traffic.

Identify the traffic issues

The first step in putting together a travel plan is identifying the issues.

You can view the Local council requirements for school property projects and use the following checklist table to identify your traffic issues:

Traffic management checklist

School traffic




Does your school already have a travel plan?


If no, is anything else being done to reduce traffic to and from school?


Do you know the road types around your school and the traffic volumes?


Check with your council.


Is vehicle speed on surrounding streets an issue?


Traffic calming measures such as speed bumps may be used to slow traffic.


Is there a school zone around the school?


School zones (40 kilometre per hour speed limits) were developed to raise driver awareness. They should decrease the likelihood of a crash and its severity should one occur.


Is there a crash history around the school?


Consultants can provide detailed information on recorded crashes, but you may have information about near misses or minor crashes.


How do staff and students get to school? How many use each method (approximately)?


This may include walking, cycling, passenger transport, private car alone, and private car with others.

Access and traffic movement




How many school entry and exit points are there?


This information is important when there’s an increase in traffic. You don’t want more traffic through access points with poor visibility. A traffic impact assessment will point out if this is an issue.


What is the visibility like at these points?



Are the access points controlled?


Can access be locked and made available only at certain times?


Are there existing safety or congestion issues at the access points?


Observe the access points. Addressing a congestion issue early could save time in the future.


Are there issues with traffic movement in the school?


For example, can buses turn around when they’re in the school? Are there narrow driveways that operate only in one direction?


Are pedestrian or cycle access points separate from vehicle access points?


Separating these access points can reduce accidents.

Parking on site




Does the school meet the local council’s parking rules?


Check with the council about their rules on the number and kind of parks.


Is parking clearly marked and managed?


Regardless of the number of spaces, active parking management can increase efficiency and manage some issues.


What policy exists around parking at school?



Is there a dedicated drop-off zone?


Separating drop-off areas from parking can improve traffic flow.

Off-street parking




Do you have a policy for caregivers parking at school?


When parking issues arise, make it clear to caregivers and neighbours what the school expects around parking. This could save time and reduce problems in the future.


Does the council monitor parking in streets around the school?



Are there complaints from neighbours?


Other issues to consider




Can the school’s start and end times be staggered?


Staggered times reduce congestion.


Do you have policies on:

  • access
  • parking
  • cycle use
  • pick-up/drop-off
  • students driving?


Providing clear rules can reduce problems.


Is travel to school part of the curriculum?


Increasing student awareness of traffic management can help ease problems.


Do you actively communicate with caregivers about travel choices?


Make caregivers aware of their choices and of what you’re doing to address traffic issues.


Develop a system for dropping off and picking up students

Make sure your travel plan includes a system for dropping off and picking up students.

For busy urban schools, traffic needs to be coordinated in and around the school during peak times. If not, drivers might park illegally in the neighbourhood. For example, they might:

  • double park
  • park on yellow lines
  • park across driveways
  • park too close to pedestrian crossings.

This is unsafe and will irritate neighbours.

A system might include:

  • entrances for pedestrians only
  • a bus bay that is separate from car and pedestrian entrances
  • an off-street drop-off and pick-up area
  • specific lanes for cars, which are clearly marked for one direction only
  • staff at key points to manage traffic flow
  • staggered start and finish times for different year groups.

If your school has limited space, approach the local council to provide a dedicated drop-off and pick-up area in a nearby street.

The following diagram is an example of an efficient system.

Traffic diagram.

Diagram showing a traffic system at a school. There are pedestrian only access points and a bus loading zone. There is a one-way traffic lane for cars through the school, with a pick-up and drop-off zone. Staff are stationed at the pick-up and drop-off zone to manage traffic flow.

Pay for traffic system improvements

You can use your 5 Year Agreement (5YA) funding to pay for improvements to your traffic system.

Any work needs to be:

  • planned for in your school’s 10 Year Property Plan (10YPP)
  • budgeted in the available 5YA funding.


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