State Safety Office
Crosswalk Safety Tips - What You and Your Child Should Know
Florida traffic laws lay out the rules of the road that enable pedestrians and drivers to share the road. Pedestrians - just like drivers; must obey traffic laws. To learn more, visit "Overview: Pedestrian Laws".
Pedestrians should always use the proper search pattern and follow these safety steps when crossing the road even when using pedestrian signals:
- Stop at the curb or edge of the street. If vehicles parked on the street block your view of traffic, move forward to the edge of the line of parked vehicles where you can observe traffic in both directions. Be visible to drivers and recognize when to yield to motorists.
- Look left, right, then left again for approaching traffic.
- At an intersection corner, also check over your shoulder for turning vehicles.
- Determine whether there is a gap in traffic that is safe for both pedestrian and driver. Never assume that drivers see you or will stop for you.
- When there is a safe gap in traffic, walk directly across the street at a consistent pace. Avoid distracted walking by continuously looking out for motorists or other hazards. Drivers may not be attentive to driving or may not be accustomed to pedestrians sharing the road. Always watch for any quick turning movements or drivers disregarding Florida traffic laws.
The primary responsibility of adult school crossing guards is to help children cross the street in a safe and efficient manner as the children walk to and from school. This is best accomplished if all road users - the crossing guard, pedestrians, and drivers are aware of the following:
Drivers should always be attentive to pedestrians, especially Florida's youngest, crossing the street. Small children may dart into traffic or simply assume that a driver sees them if the child sees the car (assuming the child looked at all!). When travelling through a school area, drivers should anticipate pedestrians and be prepared to stop for pedestrians at crossings taking extra care during periods of reduced visibility such as rain, fog, low light or sun glare. There are more school crossings than crossing guards so be alert for pedestrians crossing from either intersection corner when turning left or right and be attentive to pedestrians crossing midblock. Drivers should always avoid in-vehicle distractions and, of course, abide by the speed limit, especially in a school speed zone.
Crossing guards use and extend gaps in traffic to help students cross safely. At a crosswalk where gaps in traffic flow are inadequate for children to safely cross the street, guards may be used to provide gaps in traffic. Guards create an adequate gap by standing in the roadway at opportune times and indicate that pedestrians are about to use the crosswalk. Crossing guards wear mandatory safety apparel such as a retroreflective vest, stop traffic using a STOP paddle and, if necessary, blast their whistles. Children do not follow the guard into the roadway. Before communicating to children that they may look and go, guards continue to scan for traffic and wait until all vehicles have stopped. Once the guard has checked that drivers have stopped, the guard verbally directs the children to look and cross. When the last child has reached the opposite curb, the crossing guard leaves the roadway. The guard is the first to enter and the last to leave the street.
Drivers stop before entering the crosswalk. If a crossing guard is entering or standing in the roadway, avoid stopping in the crosswalk to keep it accessible and unimpeded for pedestrians. The crosswalk guides children to cross in the most direct manner and provides guidance for people with low vision.
Crossing guards reinforce safe crossing skills. Crosswalks are not "safety zones" by any means. Therefore, guards remind children to look for traffic before and as they cross the street. The guards' presence can help discourage unsafe behavior near traffic such as children darting into the street without looking or crossing against a traffic signal.
Children look out for their own safety, too, by following these crossing safety tips:
- Listen to the crossing guards instructions;
- Do not follow the guard into the street;
- When instructed to cross, always look before stepping into the roadway to make sure it is still clear to cross;
- Walk at a steady pace within the crosswalk;
- Avoid distracting activities and instead watch out for traffic while in the roadway;
- If arriving after another group of students has already started to cross or the pedestrian signal flashes the "Don't Walk" signal, be prepared to wait until the next crossing.
For more information on crossing guard techniques and procedures, refer to The Florida School Crossing Guard Training Guidelines (PDF). Any concerns or comments about a crossing guard should be directed to the local agency employing the guard.