The Ottawa Safety Council (OSC) is rolling out a new 2-step whistle system at all crossing guard locations across Ottawa. This fall has seen parents and students shifting their traditional mode of transportation to and from school.
There are fewer students taking the bus and more families are walking, cycling and driving. Despite reduced in-school attendance, pedestrian and
motorist traffic has increased at many of the 262 locations that OSC crossing guards are stationed during the morning and afternoon bell times.
Because of this increase, as well as the fact that all the guards are now wearing face masks, the OSC will be rolling out a new 2-step whistle system for all crossing guards.
Guards will be equipped with FOX-40 electronic whistles and will use these to communicate with pedestrians and drivers with the click of a button. The whistle has been used for years at several other Ontario municipalities, and sounds like a regular whistle.
“The guards primary form of communication with their pedestrians is verbal. They use facial expressions and eye contact to communicate with drivers. Having their voice muffled by a face mask and half of their face covered can be a barrier to clear communication while they are on their shifts,” explains Program Manager, Kelly Banks.
“The whistle is an extra measure to ensure that everyone passing through the crossing guard’s intersection is alerted to their important presence there.”
The 2-step whistle system will work as follows:
- The crossing guard determines it is safe to enter the crosswalk and will blow one long whistle blast to alert drivers they are stepping out.
- Once positioned safely in the intersection, the crossing guard will blow two short whistle blasts to indicate to pedestrians it is safe to proceed.
- If motorists attempt to illegally proceed through the crosswalk while the crossing guard and pedestrians are still crossing, the guard may blow another long whistle blast to get the drivers attention to stop and wait. Drivers may proceed through the crosswalk once all pedestrians and the crossing guard are safely on the curb.
The whistles will be rolled out across the City of Ottawa over the next several weeks, with priority going to intersections with higher volumes of traffic. Come the new year, all crossing guards across the City of Ottawa will be using the 2-step whistle system.
The OSC asks that drivers and pedestrians be ever-vigilant and on the look-out for children and crossing guards when driving near schools. Children can be very unpredictable and ignoring a crossing guard’s stop sign in order to save 30 seconds on your commute is not worth endangering children’s lives or the large fine and demerit points received when you get caught.