Drivers ignore school zone limits, put kids in danger
Steve Chamraz reports Video by tmj4.comvideo
MILWAUKEE- At first glance, Steve Ellis is just a crossing guard.
Spend a few minutes watching him in action, and you realize he is something more akin to a human stop sign.
"If they can't see a big guy like me in the middle of an intersection, there's something wrong," Ellis laughed while extending his arms nearly as wide as his 6-foot height.
Every morning and afternoon, Ellis is at the corner of 41st Street and Forest Home. He gets kids across the four lanes of Forest Home traffic and safely to their principal at Manitoba Elemetary.
Rhoda Jones-Goodwin's is the first-year principal at Manitoba. When she arrived on day one, the speeding came as a shock.
"Oh my God," Jones-Goodwin gasped, recalling the traffic on her first day. "How are we going to get our children across the street?"
The solution comes in two parts.
Steve Ellis is one half, the other is a 20 mile per hour school zone speed limit.
Though drivers only pay attention to man wearing a reflective guest and orange gloves.
"They just fly by," Ellis said.
Most drivers plead ignorance about school zones, not knowing when the lower limit is in effect.
So here is school zone lesson number one: Any time you drive past a school when class is in session, you need to slow it down.
When drivers don't slow down and don't pay attention, brakes squeal as cars struggle to stop in time.
"They slam on their brakes, if they're not paying attention, they slam on their brakes," he said.
Which leads to school zone lesson number two: Pay attention.
Put down the phones, stop drinking the coffee, turn down the radio. Whatever it takes to not lose sight of a kid while driving past a school.
Crossing guards are doing more than just stopping traffic, they're herding kids.
By this time of year, Steve Ellis has his kids pretty well trained.
"They pretty much cross at the crosswalks," he said. "Their parents taught 'em pretty good."
That's school zone lesson number three -- for the kids.
The rules are there for your protection. Obey your crossing guard and cross within the lines.
Ellis is putting his body on the line every day to keep kids safe, though he tries not to think about the dangers.
"Some days, I do get nervous, but I keep my composure," he said. "Think about the kids first."
And if a driver were to hit him -- Ellis knows he would likely have the last laugh.