Crossing patrols face new challenge

LOLLIPOP men and women have to put on a brave face as they endure abuse from drivers who ignore their attempts to slow them down.The lollipop has as much authority as a traffic light and not stopping could land you with a fine of up to £1,000 and three points on your licence.

LOLLIPOP men and women have to put on a brave face as they endure abuse from drivers who ignore their attempts to slow them down.

The lollipop has as much authority as a traffic light and not stopping could land you with a fine of up to £1,000 and three points on your licence.

Now a number of local authorities are equipping their patrol staff with mobile cameras attached to their lollipop signs at hats.

Suffolk County Council has yet to take such radical measures but the men and women who escort our children to school say they feel intimidated by aggressive drivers.

Frank Slater, 70, from Bishops Hill, patrols for Clifford Road Primary.

He said: “I don't tend to get much abuse but I often get 'run throughs' when drivers don't stop though I indicate for them to do so.

Most Read

“Most of the time it's mothers on the school run and they're exactly the people whose children we try to protect. As you step out they just swerve around you. I think we need to go back to basics and start them off right.

“When I started to drive, most people couldn't afford a car and had to start off on a bicycle and progress to a car and if you went faster than 60mph in it the engine would probably fall out.

“But it's the people with their feet on the accelerator who are to blame rather than the cars.”

Lollipop people were introduced in 1953 to relieve policemen of the task. In 2001 they began crossing with adults as well as children.

Lynn Turner, 60, of Foxhall Road, has been patrolling for Broke Hall Primary for eight years.

She said: “We get impatient drivers all the time, especially first thing in the morning. We run a tandem crossing here so it's difficult for drivers to swerve around us.

“We get dirty looks occasionally but never verbal abuse. I try not to look at the people behind the wheel and avoid eye contact at all times.

I don't think some people realise it's an offence not to stop. We're doing a service for the community and helping both children and grown ups cross the road.”

In the past year, a total of 1,400 patrol staff across the country were verbally abused or assaulted, leaving many needing hospital treatment.

Here in Suffolk, the council manage 90 patrols helping thousands of people across the road daily.

Mike Motteram, County Road Safety Officer, said: “We do occasionally have problems with impatient drivers which is why we ran a Stop Means Stop campaign.

“Any public worker who is out and about is vulnerable but our crossing patrols are encouraged not to respond to abuse. We like them to acknowledge and thank drivers who do stop but their primary concern is the children they are helping cross the road.”