Uniforms and Equipment for Adult School Crossing Guards

An adult school crossing guard wears a uniform and uses equipment that is highly visible and easily identifiable by the general public. This enhanced visibility allows motorists and pedestrians to see the guard and the signal the guard presents more clearly.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) recommends that an adult school crossing guard be uniformed so that street users and pedestrians can recognize the guard and respond to the guards' signals. The guard uniform should be distinctively different from those worn by regular law enforcement officers. Adult school crossing guards should wear retro-reflective traffic vests. The MUTCD provides guidelines for such high-visibility retro-reflective safety apparel to be worn by guards.

The MUTCD recommends that a guard use a STOP paddle as the primary hand-signaling device. States and local governments address hand-signaling devices in a variety of ways. Some jurisdictions require the use of a STOP paddle, others recommend its use, and yet others recommend its use in conjunction with hand-signals. If a STOP paddle is used, the MUTCD sets guidelines on the shape, size and design of the paddle.Other potential pieces of guard equipment include gloves, a hat and a whistle. Wearing a hat gives a guard a more official appearance and can enhance his or her visibility, as well as protect the guard from the sun, cold, and rain. Whistles may help a guard gain the attention of children at noisy intersections.

If a guard is equipped with two-way radios or cell phones, they must be used only in emergencies. A guard should never answer the phone or radio while crossing children. In fact, some agencies prohibit cell phones to avoid distractions.

As the local committee identifies what type of equipment to use, it should also decide on guidelines that will explain when equipment is considered unsuitable for use. For example, a guard should not use old, defaced or worn out STOP paddles or safety vests that are no longer reflective or that have faded.

State variations on stop paddle requirements and uniforms

Estes Hills Elementary School, Chapel Hill, NC

The MUTCD 2003 California Supplement requires the STOP paddle to be the primary hand-signaling device and allows for the use of a larger paddle where speeds are 30 mph or more and guards need greater visibility.

The State of Florida requires an adult school crossing guard to wear a high-visibility, retroreflective outer garment (vest, shirt, or rainwear) that is labeled as ANSI 107-2004 standard performance for Class 2 risk exposure. The apparel background material shall be either fluorescent yellow green or fluorescent orange-red. A guard shall be equipped with a whistle, as well as a STOP Paddle that is MUTCD compliant and/or orange or yellow-green gloves that include retroreflective material. (If both gloves and stop paddle are used, the gloves need not include retroreflective material.)

The State of North Carolina strongly recommends the use of hand-held signs or STOP paddles, but allows the local governing agency to decide whether a guard uses either a STOP paddle or an orange-gloved hand, or both.