Hamilton, NJ, March 2, 2021—AAA Mid-Atlantic is proud to celebrate its School Safety Patrol program’s centennial anniversary. For 100 years, Patrollers around the world, and here in New Jersey, have provided school-aged children an extra sense of safety and security when going to and from school.
New Jersey is home to approximately 18,000 Safety Patroller’s with over 12,000 in AAA Mid-Atlantic’s service area, and as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the region, Patrollers and Safety Patrol advisors had to pivot quickly to keep those programs going.
“The pandemic took many aspects of daily life away from students this year,” said Frank Neary, Traffic Safety Senior Specialist 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 decades ago 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.
“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 AAA President and CEO, and former Patroller, Marshall Doney. “This community program teaches safety and leadership skills to ensure our youngest generations are making smart decisions. I can attest first hand. The important pedestrian and traffic safety measures I learned as a Patroller had a profound and lasting impact on my career.”
For some students, becoming a Patroller shapes their lives, and wearing the ‘Lectric Lime belt and badge proudly inspires them to be future leaders. Rochelle D’Agostino Salmon, a former Patroller at Hammonton Elementary School, credits the AAA School Safety Patrol program for giving her the drive and opportunity for success.
“In the early 1970’s at a time when the women’s rights movement was reaching the national spotlight, I was already becoming a young woman leader. I didn’t know it then; but, my three years on the school safety patrol was quietly paving the way for all girls like me to become leaders,” said Rochelle Salmon, former AAA School Safety Patroller. “Thank You to the AAA School Safety Patrol Program for giving this young girl an historic opportunity. Happy 100th Anniversary.”
The belt may come off after seventh or eighth grade, but the leadership values and safety awareness have inspired many to pursue admirable careers, including President Biden. Other 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. Many Patrollers now serve as educators, executives, and community leaders.
“Patrollers direct children, not traffic. Their focus is on helping students be safe where traffic is concerned,” Neary added. “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.
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