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Tallahassee crossing guards aim to bring awareness to pedestrian safety

Posted at 6:36 PM, Feb 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-12 18:36:36-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Wednesday's National Crossing Guard Appreciation Day gives light to the men and women who help keep our residents safe, especially with Tallahassee's recent upward trend of pedestrians hit by cars.

Hundreds of children and their parents can be seen crossing the street to get to Kate Sullivan Elementary School. And keeping everyone safe is exactly what crossing guards aim to do.

Most members of the community say they just want people to slow down, including a popular crossing guard at the school. Tallahassee Crossing Guard Robert Austin, Jr. said it is a daily mission for him to keep everyone safe.

"Before they cross over, we always have a pattern that we go through,” said Austin. “I always tell them to look left, right, left, but wait until I tell you to cross."

Known in the Kate Sullivan Elementary School community as 'Mr. Bob,’ Austin has been helping kids cross the street for almost 25 years.

After almost 40 years of being a truck driver, he made the change to crossing guard to protect his community.

"I had some friends on the crossing and then they got me out here on it and ever since I've been here,” Austin said. “I just love it."

Being a crossing guard is a job that sometime can be taken for granted. TPD Public Information Officer Kevin Bradshaw says without them, children's safety would be put into jeopardy.

"They are the ones who control the traffic,” said Bradshaw. “They are the ones that are feet on the ground and can see both sides of the sidewalk. For motorists especially, being able to pay absolutely attention to those stop signs when they raise that sign up."

Unfortunately for some drivers, raising that sign does not always mean the driver will follow the law.

The principal for Kate Sullivan Elementary School, Michael Bryan, said it is an issue that needs to be resolved.

"We have probably 100 to 200 kids strolling across the Miccosukee Road every morning and every afternoon,” said Bryan. “And what I notice the most is drivers just being impatient."

Things such as illegal U-turns and dropping kids off for school on the side of the road are some actions drivers make that are dangerous for everyone.

Two people were recently hit by cars while crossing the street in Tallahassee. One was killed, which is heightening awareness of cross walk safety in the community.

With the recent upward trend in pedestrian involved accidents in Tallahassee, Mr. Bob's advice is plain and simple:

"Watch out for us and be careful. Protect us, and we will protect each other."