Crossing guards are typically either police officers or volunteers authorized by the local police department who direct traffic to ensure the safety of pedestrians, especially children walking to and from school. Crossing guards may also be present after large events at the Civic Center, football games and downtown festivals in Columbus.

A crossing guard’s role is an important one, and they can save lives. Without a crossing guard, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians may simply be relying on their best judgment on when to stop and when to go.

Drivers who are forced to slow down for pedestrians when crossing guards aren’t present are more likely to experience road rage or make bad, risky decisions to get where they are going faster. Add in young children, who are likely to impulsively run into the road without realizing an approaching car won’t or can’t stop in time for them, and it’s a recipe for disaster when crossing guards aren’t present.

Do I Need to Obey a Crossing Guard?

Yes. Police-authorized crossing guards’ directions take precedence over other traffic signals, and many crossing guards are police officers themselves.

The most important thing to recognize is that if you see a crossing guard, it means there are pedestrians present, and they’re usually children if you’re near a school or school zone. If you ignore a crossing guard signaling you to stop, you could strike a child and be held liable.

However, crossing guards also cannot enter traffic recklessly. They should use existing safe gaps in traffic to help children cross and extend the length of these gaps using their stop signs until all children are safely across.

How Do I Recognize a Crossing Guard?

Crossing guards are not supposed to be untrained volunteers who step in to help. Typically, they are police officers or people who are trained and authorized by the local police department to act as crossing guards.

Crossing guards will typically be wearing a high-vis vest in yellow or orange and carrying a hand-held stop sign.

Where Are Crossing Guards Found?

Crossing guards are usually placed at intersections that see plenty of vehicle and foot traffic, and in particular around schools. Deciding which intersections need a crossing guard is usually done by the local community, but the following criteria are usually considered:

  • The age of the children crossing the street: Young children are unable to recognize dangerous situations that older children can, so crossing guards are more common outside preschools and grade schools than middle or high schools.
  • How many lanes there are: Crossing a street becomes significantly more dangerous when there are more than two lanes of traffic.
  • How fast cars are moving: The speed limit in school zones is 25 mph in Georgia, but it also depends on the speed limit outside the school zone. Not all drivers obey the speed limit, and if they break the law and don’t slow down when entering a school zone, or don’t slow down fast enough, they can seriously injure any children they hit.
  • If other traffic signals are present: A community may consider a crossing guard unnecessary if there are existing “WALK/DON’T WALK” signals or “Pedestrian Crossing” signs present.
  • How far the intersection is from the school: An intersection further from the school may be considered a higher priority for a crossing guard if it is in a residential neighborhood (meaning, that is where the majority of students are crossing) than a closer intersection leading to a commercial area.

What’s the Penalty for Speeding in a School Zone?

Speeding in a school zone in Georgia can have serious consequences for drivers. School zones have lower speed limits, usually 25 mph, and many are enforced with traffic cameras.  Interestingly, because of “speed traps” well known to Georgia drivers over the years, the laws have been modified to prohibit the use of radar in towns, BUT NOT WHEN DEALING WITH SCHOOL ZONES or other designated areas (including historic districts). And in Columbus, the school zones can and are enforced—for the safety of our children.

In Georgia, drivers can be fined $75 for their first traffic violation in a school zone, and $125 for every following violation. In Alabama, a conviction of speeding in a school zone costs you double the fine for violating the speed limit outside a school zone. The fines go up SIGNIFICANTLY for super speeders and wreckless driving—as they should.

Those are just the criminal consequences for breaking the law. If a driver actually hits and injures a child, they could be liable for a lot more in civil court. The injured child and their family could be owed medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, and compensation for the parents’ lost wages if they needed to take time off work to care for their child.

If You Were Injured by a Reckless Driver, Get Gary Bruce

The bottom line is, if you see a stop sign, whether one posted in the ground or held by a crossing guard, stop! When drivers don’t stop and injure others, they can and should be held liable for the harm they cause.

If your child was injured walking to or from school by a reckless driver, contact our firm today for a free case evaluation. We can help you determine your steps to getting the compensation your family needs to recover from this tragic incident.