Question: I know drivers are supposed to stop for the School Patrol, but I do not know what they are doing with the flag and the different positions, etc. What should people know about these young folks out there risking their lives doing the school patrol? Can you provide information about this situation?
Answer: Yes, I would be glad to. The School Patrol began right here in Minnesota, in 1920 in St. Paul. Sister Carmela saw that one school used older boys to help younger kids across the street before and after school on an informal basis. She took that idea and formalized it. Enough history. Here is what you must know:
School Patrol students are usually in or close to fifth grade. The State Patrol has the authority by statute to train these young folks, but many school liaison officers have assisted in recent years. The students are instructed to stand at least one step back from the curb in the Attention Position, holding the flag with their right hand, and resting the pole on their right foot.
When there is a lull in traffic, they are to raise the flag straight up for at least four seconds while checking traffic in all directions. This is called the Alert Position. As a motorist, you should be watching for this -- slow down and prepare to stop. The flags are a bright orange color. They have a yellow stop sign printed on them, so you can't miss them.
Next, they are to step on the curb with their left foot and have their right foot stretched out into the street and hold the flag at a 45-degree angle off their right hip while facing traffic. This is the "Crossing" position. The flag, when held in this manner constitutes a legal stop sign. Vehicles must not violate this flag.
Students then cross in the crosswalk behind the flag. When the students are finished crossing, a command is given and the School Patrol members will go back into an attention position one step back from the curb and remain there until the next group of students needs to cross. The school patrol members are not to go out into the street more than one step unless there is a parked vehicle blocking their view. Then they can be out one step past the width of the vehicle to be seen. Any school wanting this training can contact me.
You should see the same School Patrol procedures in Duluth or Albert Lea as you do in Brainerd. There should be statewide uniformity in the operation of our school patrols. Almost 2000 students attend Legionville camp near Brainerd every summer to have School Patrol training and other safety training. Please watch out for these young folks, and slow down near schools and school buses as well.
If you have any questions for future columns concerning motor vehicle traffic in Minnesota, please send questions to: "ASK A TROOPER" c/o Sgt. Curt S. Mowers 1991 Industrial Park Rd So. P.O. Box 644 Brainerd, MN 56401. Questions are edited for space and content.
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