By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter –
OKLAHOMA CITY – AAA is celebrating its School Safety Patrol program’s centennial anniversary. For 100 years, Patrollers around the world have provided school-aged children an extra sense of safety and security when going to and from school.
Presently, 87 elementary schools in Oklahoma are served by some 1,800 Patrollers who perform a variety of duties specific to their schools’ needs.
The program has contributed to the steady decline of U.S. student pedestrian (ages 5–14) deaths—a 24 percent decrease since 2010.
“AAA’s School Safety Patrol program is the world’s largest school-based safety program. We could not be prouder of the thousands of young men and women annually who dedicate their time before and after school each day to ensure the safety of their classmates,” said Leslie Gamble, AAA Oklahoma’s Public Affairs Manager.
“This community program teaches safety and leadership skills to ensure our youngest generations are making smart decisions,” Gamble added. “The important pedestrian and traffic safety measures learned by Patrollers often have a profound and lasting impact on their careers.”
Created to make children safer while walking to school, the program has changed with the times while maintaining its mission to provide a safer environment and leadership opportunities for millions of schoolchildren.
Started as a boys-only initiative when horses and buggies were still a transportation mode, the program has evolved to include girls.
The training that Patrollers receive imparts a sense of safety beyond street crossings, including bus and car drop-offs, monitoring hallway congestion, and teaching Patrollers invaluable leadership skills.
The famous Patroller belt has seen change, too, going from white to neon orange to today’s fluorescent green called ‘Lectric Lime.
“Patrollers direct children, not traffic,” said Gamble. “Their focus is on helping students be safe where traffic is concerned. Their actions save lives. Patrollers serve as role models in schools across the country.”
For some students, becoming a Patroller is inspired by wanting to help others and the privilege to wear the ‘Lectric Lime belt and badge proudly. For others, it is also a tradition passed on from generation to generation. The belt may come off after fifth grade, but the leadership values and safety awareness have inspired many to pursue admirable careers.
President Joe Biden is among notable Patroller alumni that along with two other former presidents, astronauts, governors, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, Olympic medalists, and Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Many Patrollers now serve as educators, executives, law enforcement officers and community leaders.
The 2020–21 school year incorporates 679,000 Patrollers in 35,000 schools in the United States.
Over the last 100 years, interest in and excitement for the program have spread around the world, according to the AAA press release. The AAA model has been adopted in at least 30 other countries, including England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
Since 1920, AAA provides various equipment and education materials to Patrollers, including reflective belts, patrol badges and training resources.
To learn how to bring the AAA School Safety Patrol to your school, email [email protected].
AAA provides more than 61 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 30 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America.
Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility.
Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 61 million members nationwide and nearly 425,000 members in Oklahoma. To join or for more information, visit AAA.com.