In recognition of the significance of crossing guards in pedestrian safety, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, together with the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Chicago Archdiocese launched the third annual “Stay Alert, Don’t Get Hurt” public awareness campaign aimed at keeping students and crossing guards safe under the City’s Vision Zero Plan.
“Through rain or shine, our crossing guards dedicate every day to ensure Chicago’s students can safely travel to and from school so that they can remain focused on receiving the quality education they deserve,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “This partnership through various City agencies and departments exemplifies Chicago’s core values as we continue to build on improvements for student and pedestrian safety through our Vision Zero Traffic Safety Plan.”
As part of the campaign, the City is asking schools and residents to acknowledge their crossing guards as vital members of the community throughout the month. Chicagoans can also nominate their choice for the Crossing Guard of the Year Award at https://forms.gle/yJTPuDPyg2GFegWz9. Nominations are due by March 31.
This year’s Crossing Guard Appreciation Month in Chicago will be held from February 14 to March 14, highlighting the important role crossing guards play in helping Chicago children back and forth to school safely.
“We are pleased to partner with our school communities on this campaign, whose purpose is to remind motorists about safe driving behavior near schools, and to heed the direction of crossing guards as they cross children and community members during bell times,” said Executive Director Rich Guidice, Office of Emergency Management and Communications. “We also encourage students, schools and community residents to nominate their favorite crossing guards for the Crossing Guard the Year Award.”
Nationally, approximately 13 percent of students walk or bike to school. Crossing guards help students develop safe pedestrian and bicycling habits, such as looking both ways before crossing roads, navigating intersections and using crosswalks.
“Success in the classroom starts with a safe commute to and from school every day, and the city’s dedicated crossing guards help make that a reality for our students,” said CPS Chief Safety and Security Officer Jadine Chou. “We celebrate these trusted pillars of our community during Crossing Guard Appreciation Month, and all year long, and acknowledge the peace of mind they bring to so many of our parents and students.”
Under the campaign, the City issued the following safety reminders for motorists:
• Check crosswalks when turning.
o Don’t just look for oncoming traffic– check for people walking
• Stop for people in crosswalks.
o State law: Drivers MUST STOP for people walking at crosswalks not just intersections with traffic lights or stop signs.
• Slow down.
o School zones have lower speed limits – Keep to 20MPH in around schools.
o Allow enough time for pick-up and drop-off. When you’re running late, you’re running a risk. Rushing is dangerous.
• Just drive.
o Texting and talking on a cell phone while driving slows reaction time.
• Never maneuver around stopped traffic in a school zone.
o Double parking around school zones decreases safety for everyone. Check with
your school about pick-up and drop-off policies.
• Be aware of crossing guards and obey their directions.
o Crossing guards wear brightly colored and highly reflective clothing while on duty so that they are visible in traffic and during inclement weather.
o Crossing guards use hand-held stop signs while walking out in the street to alert drivers that children and pedestrians of all ages are crossing.
• Drive according to conditions.
o Overall visibility is limited in bad weather conditions. Not only is it more difficult for drivers to see oncoming pedestrians, it also is harder for pedestrians to see you.
o Make sure your lights are on and you use your signals properly. Use extra caution in these circumstances.
Approximately 750 pedestrians and bicyclists ages 5 to 14 were injured in incidents involving a vehicle in 2018 in Illinois. Under the Vision Zero Chicago City is working to eliminate injuries and traffic fatalities by 2026.
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