Using a combination of professional actors and a local Police cheif, the film will provide
every local municipality whether urban, suburban or rural, with a strong, reliable
foundation for crossing guard safety training.
As traffic injuries and fatalities continue to increase at unacceptable rates throughout the Garden State, the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP) joined forces with the Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund (MEL) in an effort to put a dent in this disturbing trend. Their latest joint project, an educational training video, deals with a subject that affects every community in each of the state’s 21 counties: Crossing Guard Safety.
The MEL, which monitors the accident experience rates of its 373 member municipalities, reported that during the last ten years, the incidence of crossing guards being injured while on duty increased 65 percent. Possible reasons for this alarming rise include the increase in the number of children being driven to school by their parents which increases vehicular congestion in and around school zones and the fact that an aging crossing guard population is experiencing deteriorating hearing and eyesight.
Using a combination of professional actors and a local Police Chief, the film will provide every local municipality whether urban, suburban, or rural, with a strong, reliable foundation for crossing guard safety training. Chief of Police Michael Mastronardi of Tom’s River (which recently was named one of the 5 safest communities in the nation) personally participated in the taping and helped explain the need for the training video: “Most communities don’t have any formal training for crossing guards. Cell-phone use by drivers and other forms of ‘distracted’ driving combined with greater traffic volume during low-visibility early morning and afternoon rush-hours dramatically increases the potential for accidents involving crossing guards and school children.”
Produced with the assistance of New Jersey Network, the production crew visited Nutley, West Orange, Ewing and Toms River for ‘on-site’ taping hoping to produce a more realistic video. A number of Crossing Guards were involved in developing the script and editing the final product.
“Crossing Guards must remain acutely aware of weather, visibility, and road conditions and accurately estimate what is a safe stopping distance for vehicles traveling in both directions on the roadway. Even at moderate speeds, trucks and buses need more time and more distance to stop safely than do most automobiles. Before a crossing guard steps out into traffic, he or she must be absolutely certain that any approaching vehicle has adequate time to come to a full stop,” said Chief Mastronardi.
More than 1,300 mayors and council members received a briefing on the Crossing Guard Safety project from Mitchell Sklar, Executive Director of the NJSACOP and David Grubb, Executive Director and Senior Partner of PERMA (Public Entity Risk Management Administration) Inc. during the Elected Officials Risk Management Seminar at the League of Municipalities Annual Conference this past November.
The New Jersey State League of Municipalities also partnered with MEL and the NJSACOP to publish the Community Safety Leadership (CSL) manual that specifically details traffic safety and other risk management concerns.
Other important elements in the effort to improve crossing guard safety include the issuance of highly reflective vests, gloves, uniforms, hand-held ‘STOP” signs as well as a recommendation to establish minimum medical standards for all Crossing Guards. A Crossing Guard Training Manual will be developed to include an instructor’s guide, Power Point and video. Although each community will have ultimate responsibility for training its own crossing guards, the NJSACOP will conduct a series of “train the trainers” sessions to help expedite the statewide implementation of the safety program. The video will be available early in 2007, without charge, to every municipality in the state.
The MEL, which financed the $100,000 project, provides leadership and innovation in the financing and management of risk. Its membership includes 18 locally operated joint insurance funds, 372 municipalities, 2 counties, 9 Fire/First Aid Districts, 75 Utility Authorities, and 86 Housing Authorities. The MEL web site is www.njmel.org
Article published in New Jersey Municipalities Magazine, April 2007