, Salem, MA

January 26, 2013

Letter: Crossing guards need to take care

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

What ever happened to driver courtesy and pedestrian safety? Thank God I have good brakes, as do most drivers. But what happens when a brake line splits or someone is a little slow stepping on the brake pedal? How many fallen pedestrians will it take before we realize that we are teaching our children to risk their lives crossing the street?

I cannot count the times that I have watched as crossing guards walk out into the street against a green light and stop traffic to allow our children to cross. I have traveled all over the country, and I grew up in Ohio, where the crossing guard walked out into the street when the light was red and motioned the children to cross, and when the light turned green, they walked back to the curb and stopped the children from crossing until the light turned again so that they were taught the safety of traffic lights. Wait for the red light, look both ways, cross the street in safety.

I see children and adults walk straight out into the streets without ever looking up. I’ve heard the screech of tires as vehicles slam on their brakes. I’ve seen cars swerve left or right to avoid hitting pedestrians who pay absolutely no attention to whether there is traffic coming or not. I’ve seen accidents caused because people do not even bother to look up from their cellphones or the other person that they’re talking to. And I’ve seen these same children and adults look up at screaming drivers and either sneer, curse or give the drivers the high sign showing that they have no respect for traffic or for their own safety.

How can we expect our children to be safe when they are being taught by crossing guards to ignore the safety rules that were put in place to protect them? Are we teaching these crossing guards to ignore safety rules and teach our children to do the same, or is that stop sign in their hands going to their heads and giving them a sense of power that they wield over traffic at the risk of our young?

When and where I grew up, there were jaywalking tickets for people who ignored traffic lights or interrupted the normal flow of traffic by crossing where they should not. Do we actually need a few funerals before we take notice and stop putting our children at risk?

Proper training for our crossing guards and a few jaywalking tickets could save a few lives.

Ty Friley