Commentary: 100 Years of School Safety Patrol Coming to Denver
This guest commentary is by Cassie Tanner, Deputy Director of Public Affairs for AAA Colorado. You can connect with Cassie on Twitter @CassStenstrom and on LinkedIn.
At AAA Colorado, we are proud partners in Vision Zero initiatives in Denver and across Colorado, and we’re even prouder to promote safe, non-automotive mobility whenever we can. After all, and this may surprise you, keeping vulnerable road users safe from cars is at the core of what we’ve always done.
Take our iconic School Safety Patrol program, which celebrates its centennial anniversary this year. This unique, worldwide initiative has contributed to a steady decrease in student pedestrian deaths since 2010 in the United States alone and has been adopted in 30 other countries, including the Netherlands, France, and Germany – places we should learn a lot from when it comes to protecting vulnerable road users.
What makes the program so successful? Well, for starters, it’s community driven and can be implemented in any school, urban or rural, inner-city or suburban. No matter where you grew up, there’s a good chance you were a patroller yourself – something you would have in common with Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and hundreds of astronauts, governors, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, Olympic medalists, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney.
We’re always looking to expand the School Safety Patrol program, especially with a renewed focus on Denver to align with the City’s Vision Zero initiatives and its Safe Routes to School 5-Year Action Plan, now in development. If you’d like to learn how to bring the AAA School Safety Patrol to your school, get in touch: AAASchoolSafetyPatrol@acg.aaa.com
The training that School Safety Patrollers receive instills a safety sense far beyond street crossings – including bus and car drop-offs, monitoring highway congestion, and real-world leadership – in addition to self-assurance and leadership skills that last a lifetime. And, since Patrollers are students themselves, their peers tend to be more likely to listen to them.
Since 1920, AAA has provided all the necessary equipment and education materials to Patrollers, including reflective belts, patrol badges, and training resources. The 2020-21 school year, different as it may be, boasts 679,000 Patrollers in 35,000 schools in the United States. How can we bring it to your school in and around Denver? Let us know, and we’ll make it happen.