Gov. JB Pritzker has declared May 19 as Crossing Guard Appreciation Day in Illinois, in honor of those who help ensure the safety of students as they walk and bike to school. According to a proclamation from the governor’s office, about 15% of Illinois students walk or bike to school.

“Crossing guards are not only friendly faces at the start and end of the school day, but they also play a critical role in the overall safety and operation of our transportation network,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “We’re proud to partner with Gov. Pritzker to recognize these public servants for all the work they do keeping communities – and our children – safe.”

On average, approximately 360 pedestrians ages 8 to 14 are hurt in vehicle-related incidents every year in Illinois. This number would likely be much higher without the assistance of crossing guards. They serve as a visual reminder to motorists to slow down in school zones where children are crossing and help students learn safe pedestrian habits, such as looking both ways before stepping onto the road and walking bikes across the street.

Illinois residents are encouraged to share their thoughts about what crossing guards mean to their communities or to recognize a special crossing guard at their children’s schools on the IDOT’s Facebook page.