New Hope School Safety Patrol
Each elementary school in New Hope has a School Safety Patrol program. The purpose of the school patrol is to assist children from their school in crossing the street safely. Each spring and fall the school safety patrols are trained in proper patrol procedure. Once their training is completed, the children are ready to go out and do their part to keep their classmates safe. Throughout each school year the New Hope Police Department receives several violation reports from the school patrols at the four schools. The purpose of this article is to provide drivers with information that will help them understand school patrol procedure, and to remind all drivers that any time we are approaching an intersection near a school, or where crossing guards are present, we should slow down and be watching for children crossing. Drivers should also be alert for, and abide by, the reduced speed limit signs that may be posted on roadways adjacent to the schools.
When you see the crossing guards standing at ATTENTION, on the curb with the flagpole resting on their foot or the ground, the patrols are holding the children back and waiting for the right time to cross them. Be prepared by covering your brake in case a child does not obey the patrol, or in case the guard raises their flag to the ALERT position.
The ALERT position is when the patrol holds the flag straight up in the air. This is the equivalent to a yellow light for traffic. You as the driver must slow down, and prepare to stop and yield. Unfortunately, as red light running is a serious problem in our society, many drivers take the ALERT to mean they should quickly hurry through the intersection so as not to be delayed by the crossing children. Whether these drivers are confused about what to do, or are in a hurry, will not matter if their vehicle hits a child.
From the ALERT position the patrols will move their flags into the STOP/FLAG OUT position. The School patrol member will be holding the flag at a 45-degree angle, and will step off the curb facing oncoming traffic. This is an official stop sign. You as the motorist, are required to stop and yield to the pedestrians crossing the road. You must remain stopped until the school patrol have safely crossed the children, and have moved back up to the curb, standing at ATTENTION. Violation of a school patrol flag is a crime punishable by a mandatory court appearance and a very large fine. If you strike a child you will be subject to much harsher penalties, and worse yet have to live with the mental anguish of having hurt or killed a child.
If you are not sure what to do, stop, and stay stopped, until the patrols are clearly back at ATTENTION, with their flags resting at their feet, and all children, including the patrols, are safely out of the roadway. Being a school patrol is both a wonderful opportunity and a huge responsibility. Let’s all do our part to help the patrols by driving safely and obeying the traffic laws that are in place to protect us all!