The City of Phoenix is known for its quality products designed to educate
the public on transportation safety topics. One such program was the School
Safety Program, which resulted in the most significant improvement to
school safety in Arizona since the inception of the 15-mph school zone
in 1950. The Phoenix School Safety Program was developed by a School Safety
Task Force which was created at the request of City Council after a very
tragic collision involving a young student who ran into a busy street
against a traffic signal, and past the out-stretched arms of a crossing
guard. The Task Force was charged with evaluating safety conditions in
front of all schools citywide to see what can be done to improve safety
at all 400 of our schools, and more than 1,700 of our school-related crosswalks.
The School Safety Task Force was made up of individuals from the Phoenix
Police, Street Transportation, and Law Departments, an elementary school
Principal, an Assistant Superintendent from the Paradise Valley School
District, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety,
a volunteer engineering consultant, and a parent volunteer representing
another elementary school.
School Safety Task
Force Recommendations and Accomplishments:
The Task Force studied school safety at all crossings citywide for the
past 12 years, brought in experts to provide input and conducted several
new studies over the course of a year. This resulted in a list of 26 recommendations
(see attached list) that included a combination of Engineering, Enforcement,
Educational countermeasures, as well as Experimentation with new traffic
control technology. In February 2001, Phoenix City Council adopted all
26 recommendations and provided funding for six new positions and several
new programs to enhance school safety. One of the recommendations was
to establish a two-person school safety team to work exclusively with
schools on traffic safety concerns and provide improved service to school
principals and transportation directors.
“Guardians of the Future”: This video was produced with
funding from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (in English
and in Spanish languages), with a local news anchor as the spokesperson.
This training video incorporated several new training guidelines developed
by the task force, and was incorporated into the Annual School Crossing
Guard Training Program presented by the Phoenix Street Transportation
Department as a free service to the community. The crossing guard training
videos are also loaned out to schools for use when new guards are hired,
for substitute guards, or if refresher training is needed. We improved
our annual school crossing guard training program and have helped individual
school districts strengthen their own training programs. The City received
a grant from the Governors Office of Highway Safety to purchase bright
hats and brighter reflective vests for crossing guards in Phoenix.
school safety team worked with the Automobile Club of Arizona to
develop a new training pamphlet for crossing guards, “Arizona
Handbook for Adult School Crossing Guards”. This handbook
is applicable for Arizona conditions and traffic controls (15 mph
school zones). Since some guards in Phoenix are more proficient
in Spanish, we developed a Spanish language version as well. AAA
Arizona plans to distribute this handbook throughout the State.
is a plan that is used to show parents and students the recommended
walking route and crossing locations for all students living within
the walking attendance boundary for elementary schools. The plan
takes the decision making process out of the hands of children.
The recommended plan is developed with parent volunteer input and
requires the parent volunteers to review all of the walking routes
to identify deficiencies for corrective action. Eleven walking plans
have been developed thus far in Phoenix, and more are currently
in the works.
The audit process was
developed in cooperation with the Washington Elementary School District
as a multi-disciplinary approach to inspect and evaluate all designated
crossings for a school. The Safety audit requires input from the Police,
Street Transportation Department, school principal, and a representative
from the school district. It is the first of its kind in the country.
An audit form and procedure was developed for this process which can be
used to rank school crossings to identify those most in need of improvement.
Audits were completed at 173 crossings at 71 schools in Phoenix.
October 1, 2001, Phoenix began a new enforcement program involving
radar-controlled cameras mounted in specially equipped vans at school
crossings and on busy streets in front of schools. The program began
with two photo safety vans which each can conduct enforcement at
up to three schools per day. Using information from the Phoenix
Educational Youth System (PEYS) program maintained by the City Managers
office, a complete record of school start and dismissal times, crossing
locations and school calendars is maintained to have the most effective
deployment of the police photo enforcement. In addition to photo
speed enforcement at schools, photo red light enforcement also recently
began in Phoenix (August 2001). Eight of the eleven red-light cameras
were placed at school traffic signals as a result of the School
Safety Program effort.
program approved and funded by City Council was the installation
of pavement stencils on streets and the approach to schools, which
is a form of ‘horizontal signing’ in the direct path
of the motorist. Installation began in May 2001, and so far 577
SCHOOL markings have been painted on arterial streets, and are continuing
for all schools and school crossings on higher classification streets.
started as an experiment using signs at 20 schools was quickly adopted
across the entire city within a year, and all 1,600 school warning
signs were converted to the brighter and more eye-catching fluorescent
yellow-green signs. In addition, reflective FYG post covers with
the word ‘SCHOOL’ stenciled on it are used with all
school signs placed along arterial or collector streets.
experiment that is a part of the school safety program includes
an in-pavement crosswalk flashing lights (Flashing Crosswalk) on
40th Street and Danbury for Paradise Valley High School. The flashers
are activated by ‘talking’ pushbuttons, which provide
a verbal message to students urging them to “use caution while
crossing the street,” and warning that “cars may not
stop”. Two different driver feedback speed monitors were installed
at two different school crossings to evaluate their effectiveness
on driver speeds. One speed monitor (made by 3M) was installed on
19th Ave at Orangewood, which is a major school crossing at a busy
street. The speed monitor is turned on and off by the crossing guard
so that it is only active during the school day. If a driver exceeds
the established school speed, it displays the message ‘SLOW
NOW’. The other active speed monitor (Stalker Speedboard)
shown in Figure 2 also displays approaching driver speeds, but provides
a bright LED flash to speeding motorists to get their attention.
This mimics the flash from the photo speed van. In addition, school
reduced speed zones, some in combination with overhead warning signs,
are being tested at three Phoenix schools.
test with the driver feedback signs was so effective that a special
project was built for Sunnyslope High School combining a driver
speed monitor and a pedestrian safety refuge island on Dunlap Avenue.
The crosswalk featured a European style staggered crosswalk with
fencing in the safety island, forcing two separate pedestrian crossings
for students. While on the safety island, the fencing forced pedestrians
to look towards oncoming traffic before completing their crossing.
The project also included the SCHOOL pavement stencils and the bright
FYG warning signs.
School Safety Staff developed a set of guidelines for schools to
implement inside their parking lots to minimize the congestion and
confusion that often accompanies school arrival and dismissal. The
school safety staff is available to review the existing drop-off
conditions and assist schools in implementing improved procedures
to improve safety inside school parking lots. This has had an added
benefit of eliminating most of the traffic congestion that has spilled
out onto the street in front of the school during the start and
end of the school day.
Kids being picked up
October 2001 all school principals and district administrators were
invited to a meeting with Phoenix police and traffic officials to
discuss the vital concern of traffic safety at schools. This was
an opportunity to educate the school officials on the need to provide
better training to the adult crossing guards and students and allowed
us to show them the new programs Phoenix has for school officials.
The attached booklet was developed for the School Summit Meeting,
which was provided free to school administrations and transportation
officials. The School Safety Summit Meeting Booklet provided a listing
of the Task Force recommendations, safety brochures, and the complete
presentations given at the meeting. In addition to having City staff
involved in this meeting, the Director of the Governors Office of
Highway Safety (Alberto Gutier) and representatives from AAA Arizona
were in attendance to help promote the new school safety program.
This was the first opportunity for the school administrators to
see the photo speed vans, which were on display at the summit meeting.
The Phoenix School Safety Program has been presented at the Annual Transportation
Research Board Meeting in Washington, DC, Purdue University Road School,
the Arizona Section ITE/IMSA Spring Conference, and the ITE Intermountain
Section in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The School Safety Program effectively
turned ‘lemons’ into ‘lemonade’ and resulted
in an extremely beneficial program to help the 400 schools in Phoenix
and thousands of Phoenix school children. While some of the elements
of the program were not new or unique, the entire package of recommendations
approved by Council most certainly were innovative and original and
is helping to solve a complex social problem of traffic safety at schools.
If you have any questions, please contact the City of Phoenix Street
Jenny Grote: Phone:
602-262-7597 Email: email@example.com
Mike Cynecki: Phone: 602-272-7217 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandon Forrey: Phone 602-495-0241 Email: email@example.com