A child can travel to and from school up to 200 times per year. The most dangerous part of their journey is typically closest to the school gates, owing to the increased traffic volumes as children arrive for class.
The idea of a Scholar Patrol was started by the American Automobile Association (AAA) in 1920. The concept is simple: trained student patrollers (aged 10 and up) guide fellow learners across a busy road in a controlled and organised way. Not only does a Scholar Patrol keep children safer, but it also regulates traffic, improves speed calming and creates awareness of the importance of road safety among young pedestrians. The programme also inspires patrollers to develop leadership skills, teamwork, maturity and a sense of responsibility – in addition to forming closer ties with the greater school community.
How it works
The patrol officers are volunteer students who have their guardian’s permission and who have received formal training. Typically, four scholar patrol officers use stop signs to control the flow of traffic at a pedestrian crossing. The patrol captain uses a whistle to direct the opening and closing of the crossing. The patrol officers are always supervised by a responsible adult.
How to get a scholar patrol at your school
Step 1: Qualify
A school must get permission from local traffic authorities to establish a Scholar Patrol. To do this, the school must express its concern about learner road safety to the local traffic department. (Click here to read more about scholar patrol registration and procedures https://www.arrivealive.co.za/Scholar-Patrol-Manual).
The road safety officers then visit the school to assess whether a Scholar Patrol is the best approach given the school’s unique circumstances, or whether another option would be better.
Step 2: Register
If the school qualifies, you must register with the relevant traffic authority.
Step 3: Implement
Once registered, the traffic department trains the Scholar Patrol team, applies the necessary road markings and issues Scholar Patrol equipment.
The journey to date
In 2018, the Western Cape Government had 120 Scholar Patrol engagements. So while the programme may seem simple, it can go a long way to keeping our learners safer on the roads.