KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Back-to-school time means there’s more congestion on the roads and it’s not just school buses. School crossing guards are out there helping students on foot. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller looks at the dangers school crossing guards face and the training available to help them and the kids on their watch.
“It can be extremely dangerous if you’re not watching, especially some of the traffic,” said Crossing Guard Milton Bilby. He is tasked with helping Wyoming Valley West School District students safely cross busy Wyoming Avenue at Pringle Street. “You just warn the kids to wait, wait until I tell you to come out and that’s it.”
But it takes more than instinct when to give that command. Mr. Bilby is a trained Kingston Fire Police Officer. “We go in quite in depth with traffic control and stuff like that with the fire police.”
Exhibiting skills that state police hope every crossing guard knows. “They come out. They put their stop sign up. They stand in the middle of the road. Make sure the kids are crossing. Make sure people get across, that the kids aren’t running,” said Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Deanna Piekanski.
While each crossing guard may be equipped with a stop sign, there is no law currently on the books that requires them to be equipped with the knowledge on how to keep kids safe doing their job.
AAA Mid-Atlantic would like to see that change. “We do a refresher course and then as well for the new crossing guards that are coming in,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic Traffic Safety Community Educator Andreea Higdon.
A comprehensive Adult Crossing Guard program called Safe Crossings incorporates local law enforcement, school districts and county agencies to comprehensively train crossing guards and help them avoid danger. “We don’t want them standing in the road all the time because there are distracted drivers all the time that don’t stop,” said Ms. Higdon.
Driver Carl Rosencranz sees some of those distracted drivers during his commute. “I think more people are distracted by their technology and the condition of the roads.”
It’s not just distracted drivers that are a danger according to Annette Connors of West Wyoming who said, “Some of them are very cautious. They slow down. And others, they speed up just to get through.”
It makes the job of a crossing guard critical for kids’ sake and their own.