When you drive through a school zone, there is a high likelihood of seeing a crossing guard somewhere along the way. Crossing guards have a responsibility to ensure children are safe when navigating through an increased amount of traffic, as well as to keep traffic flowing during those extra busy times of day. They can be adults or kids, and will be seen in reflective safety vests and are often carrying a stop sign, like construction zone flaggers, to aid them in controlling traffic.
We’re highlighting some important tips and guidelines to follow whenever you find yourself sharing the road with crossing guards.
When Are Crossing Guards Working?
Crossing guards follow a similar schedule to the school bell, appearing near school crosswalks both before and after the bell rings. They will be helping kids to cross 30 minutes before and 5 minutes after school begins. When it comes to dismissal, times are adjusted for half days vs. full days, so on half days crossing guards will arrive 5 minutes before dismissal and will stay 15 minutes afterwards. On regular school days, they will still arrive 5 minutes before the bell rings, but will stay at their posts for 20 minutes afterwards.
Some schools may vary with these times, and some may even have additional crossing guard times depending on their dismissal schedules, but you should reliably expect them around 8:30am, 12pm, and 3pm.
Stay Alert & Aware
Slowing down and paying attention in school zones is a must for safety, and another piece of this safety is the crossing guards themselves. While the change in speed may feel like you’re barely moving, and you may very well be caught in a line, it’s important to stay alert and aware. Monitor both sides of the crosswalks around schools for both adults in reflective vests as well as children, and of course - stop when any guard signals you to. There is usually a lot going on at this time of day but if you stay aware of crosswalks and crossing guards there should be no surprises when they step out into the road, motioning for you to stop and wait.
You should stay stopped until the crossing guard gives you the go-ahead. Crossing guards need to ensure each and every child has safely made it to the other side of the street before allowing traffic to move again. Sometimes this means waiting a few seconds longer than you might prefer but also means that if another pedestrian runs across the street at the last minute, or something is dropped and a child runs out into the middle of the street to pick it up, everyone is still safe! Children can be especially unpredictable, as they may begin their crossing without first determining that it’s safe to do so or without waiting for the crossing guard.
Where Are Crossing Guards?
Crossing guards are posted nearby and within school zones, and will usually stick to a painted pedestrian crosswalk of some kind to shepherd kids from one sidewalk to another. The crossing points used include, but are not limited to: regular pedestrian crosswalks, crosswalks with flashing lights, traffic intersections, and pedestrian controlled lights. If you come across any of these potential pedestrian crossings during the peak school times mentioned above, be sure to be extra vigilant and cautious as you approach. Even if there are no crossing guards, there may be pedestrians and children trying to cross.
Crossing guards are putting their lives on the line every day, to make sure children make it to and from school safely. It’s our responsibility, as drivers and riders, to do whatever is necessary to keep both the crossing guards and children safe! If you’re sharing the road with crossing guards, you’re also sharing the road with pedestrians, sharing the road with cyclists, and most likely sharing the road with school buses too, so make sure to be aware and conscious of everything going on around you during this busy time on the roads.