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Crossing guard urges motorists, pedestrians to play it safe in school zones
When motorists smile and wave at Heidi Morgan of Santa Cruz , she’d prefer they do it while following the rules of the road. Morgan, 56, is a crossing guard for the Live Oak School District. She has been for 15 years now, and she’s tired of motorists who prefer to “ California stop.” “It is really cutthroat out there,” said the woman who helps pedestrians cross Capitola Road at Jose Avenue and Brommer Street at Chanticleer Road during the early morning and afternoon commutes to and from school. Morgan said the intersections are busiest during these times, but motorists — particularly parents dropping off or picking up their students from school — frown on her attempts to help foot traffic safely cross the street. “(It’s) too bad for anyone who walks or rides a bike, or does anything to interrupt their commute,” she said. Morgan has gotten her share of verbal abuse and “one-fingered salutes.” She’s even been threatened with vehicles and has had motorists run through the intersection while she’s in the crosswalk, she said. “Women are the most impatient,” she observed. “But the men will just run through.” She recalled seeing one motorist everyday. He would smile and wave while running the stop sign, she said. Morgan tries to get the license plate numbers of offending vehicles and report them to the Californian Highway Patrol, but an officer beat her to taking care of this problem motorist. A motorcycle cop was working the intersection one day and witnessed Morgan’s nemesis in action, she said. The officer stopped the guy and issued him a ticket. She hasn’t seen him since. But perhaps the scariest day on the job for Morgan was the day after Thanksgiving. One of her young charges wanted to cross the street on his bicycle. She told him to wait while she walked into the intersection to stop traffic, but he didn’t. Neither did a passing motorist. The truck struck the boy and "knocked him out of his shoes,” Morgan said. The boy was rushed to the hospital. No broken bones. “He’s OK, but he’s leery of me, now,” she said. Morgan advised motorists traveling through school zones to stop and pay attention. “I would like for all drivers to be aware of our presence, as children are going to and from school, and be aware of their driving, and drive accordingly,” she said. For pedestrians, she encouraged them to take their safety into their own hands. “Don’t step off the curb until you look into the motorists’ eyes and see that they stopped,” Morgan said. “It has nothing to do with the law. Just make sure it’s safe to go.” Street Smarts is written by Ramona Turner and appears Mondays. Read the daily blog online at www.santacruzlive.com/blogs/streetsmarts. If you have a transportation question or idea, send it to email@example.com. Be sure to include a name, city of residence and daytime telephone number.