Crossing Guard Crisis: Is your child safe on the way to school?

Crossing Guard Crisis: Is your child safe on the way to school?

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - As Tammy Dayton raises her stop sign and bravely steps into a busy street, she pledges to protect every child she sees.

"They're all my kids," Dayton said. "I want to make sure they get there safely."

Crashes, close calls and speeding. These are just a few examples of the constant dangers Tucson crossing guards deal with every day to keep your kids safe on the way to school.

"They wait for me to tell them, that car won't get you, I promise," Dayton told KOLD News 13. "I'll be right here until you get to the other side."

"I always ask where's your brother? Where's your sister?" she added. "How come you're ahead? Wait for your brother."

She wears her heart and a warm smile when she works, bringing daily treats, snacks, and water for her students.

Scary Situations

Dayton said scary situations color her campus experience, including the time a driver hit her school zone sign as she was moving it at the end of the day.

"This guy was coming down Bilby," she told us. "He hit my sign with such force, the sign flew. If I was two steps quicker, he would have gotten me."

Vail School Safety and Security Director John Nunes said Tammy's patrol spot on Bilby Road east of Houghton Road, near Senita Valley Elementary, is just one piece of a serious problem plaguing Tucson's community.

"It seems to be an epidemic," Nunes said. "A lot of speeding through school zones, inattentive drivers, distracted drivers, impatient people."

Section F of Arizona Revised Statute 28-797 states:

"A vehicle shall not proceed at a speed of more than 15 miles per hour between the portable signs placed on the highway, indicating that there shall be no passing, that school is in session, and that the driver shall stop when children are in the crosswalk."

Click HERE for a link to the AZ Statute's full school zone safety section:

Nunes told KOLD News 13 so many people fail to follow this law and other rules of the road. He said it's putting kids and crossing guards alike at a real risk.

"The crossing guards are concerned," he said. "They've got a yellow vest on and a sign in their hands, but that doesn't always stop people."'

Startling Statistics

In 2016, law enforcement saw 18 car vs. pedestrian crashes in Southern Arizona school zones and made 5,012 traffic stops and citations.

So far this year, six people have been hit by cars on foot in school zones. Police officers and Sheriff's deputies have already made 1,291 traffic stops and citations in school zones since January 1, 2017.

In 2015, The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 440 on the job crossing guard injuries across the country. Six of those crossing guards died.

For a look at more US Crossing Guard safety statistics click HERE

Oro Valley Police Officer Brian Kleinberg has patrolled school zones in our community for more than a decade. He said when drivers go against recommended traffic regulations, crossing guards can really bear the brunt.

"Crossing guards are the ones who seem to be in the most danger," Kleinberg said.

He told KOLD no simple safety solution is guaranteed, but a foot on the brake and eyes on the road can really save countless lives.

"In the school zone we just don't know when kids or people are going to be in the road," he added. "And your reaction time is better when you're slow."

Meanwhile, Nunes said Southern Arizona schools are doing their best to drive towards a stronger sense of safety.

"We're all partnering to resolve the issue but it's just endemic to our society," he said.

He guarantees they'll consider every single guard who protects so many special souls.

"It could be your kid tomorrow and how would you feel if someone else was driving?" Dayton said. "Watch out for my babies."

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