PHILADELPHIA, PA (March 2, 2021) For 100 years, AAA School Safety Patrollers around the world have provided school-aged children an extra sense of safety and security when going to and from school. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the Delaware Valley, Patrollers and their advisors had to pivot quickly to keep those programs going.
“The pandemic took many aspects of daily life away from students this year,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “As it has through the past 100 years, the AAA School Safety Patrol program, along with its Patrollers and advisors, adapted and came up with new ways to make the program a success.”
Created to make schoolchildren safer while walking to school, the program has grown-up and matured with the times while remaining steadfast to 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 evolved to include girls. The training that Patrollers receive instills safety sense 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. Their focus is on helping students be safe where traffic is concerned,” said AAA Traffic Safety Advocacy and Community Impact Manager Rhonda Shah. “Their actions save lives. Patrollers serve as role models in schools across the country.”
The program and its more than 440 Lifesaving Award recipients have contributed to the steady decline of U.S. student pedestrian (ages 5–14) deaths—a 24% decrease since 2010.
Groveland Elementary School, Bucks County
AAA School Safety Patrol Advisor Matt Alderfer made the most of not only technology to keep his Safety Patrollers committed, but also the students’ enthusiasm to keep the program active.
“We ‘Covid-ized’ things with our patrol this year in making posts more stagnant and stationed rather than having students move with students throughout the building,” says Alderfer. “We hold our monthly meetings through a video call and utilize email and a Microsoft TEAMS page to communicate important information to our patrol. We also have our virtual students working on different types of projects that they can do from home, from creating bus driver appreciation videos to filming read-alouds for Read Across America Day.”
Groveland Elementary Safety Patrol committee members, along with one of the Safety Patrol captains and a few Safety Patrol members put a video together for the 100th anniversary. https://www.wevideo.com/view/2055882676
Eagleville Elementary School, Montgomery County
Lori Shaw, School Counselor at Eagleville Elementary, says that the school’s AAA School Safety Patrol is still going strong despite COVID and school closures.
“Thirty two dedicated students have attended virtual meetings to learn about leadership skills while attending school virtually until they were able to attend school in person. When returning to school, safeties had some new duties including reminding peers to social distance, wear masks and use hand sanitizer,” says Shaw. “Safeties that remained attending school virtually were still able to help by making posters to hang around the school and also make some video reminders of safe behaviors to share at morning announcements for the school.”
Were YOU a Safety Patroller?
As AAA celebrates the AAA School Safety Patrol’s 100th Anniversary, we are looking for stories from former Patrollers. If you would like to share your Safety Patrol story, visit our web page here.
Former Patroller and AAA Insurance Counselor Tim Swartz remembers his time as a Patroller at 7th Street Elementary (now Guth Elementary) in Perkasie.
“The most vivid memories I have of safety patrol was the disappointment of having a minimally trafficked corner for which I was responsible as a safety patroller. I yearned for a ‘hot corner’ where I could help many others,” says Swartz. “As a child I never knew the relationship between the safety patrol and AAA. Almost 40 years later, I’m working with AAA where there is a focus on traffic safety and I’m also focused on financial safety providing customers with smart insurance guidance to protect their financial future.”
Notable Patrollers include Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, astronauts, governors, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, Olympic medalists, and authors, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney. President Joe Biden was also a Patroller while he was a student in Scranton, Pa.
The 2020–21 school year, different as it may be, boasts 679,000 Patrollers in 35,000 schools in the United States. The legacy doesn’t stop here, however. Over the last 100 years, interest in and excitement for the program have spread around the world. 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 SchoolSafetyPatrol@national.aaa.com.
About AAA: 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. To join, visit AAA.com.
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 60 million members nationwide and more than 3.2 million members in Pennsylvania. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile appss for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.