PROVO — It's 3:10 in the afternoon, and school's out at Edgemont Elementary School.
Children flood out of the front doors, anxious to go home and play. In their hands they hold small yellow fliers and bright yellow balls.
But these balls aren't to play with. These are antenna balls, and Provo city officials are passing them out citywide to raise awareness about pedestrian safety.
"We're anxious to keep you safe," said Councilman Mark Hathaway to a group of first-graders at Edgemont Elementary School on Monday. "I hope you don't have to have a truck hit you before you learn a lesson on how to be safe."
The city launched a massive pedestrian safety campaign Monday by visiting elementary and high schools in Provo. Students received a flier with safety tips that Mayor Lewis Billings advised them to "put it on the fridge or a mirror" so everyone will be reminded about pedestrian safety.
Police Chief Craig Geslison said Provo does not have many problems with pedestrian safety. Only 38 accidents involving pedestrians and or bicycles have been reported in Provo since January. The city is just trying to raise awareness before anything bad happens, Geslison said.
"When a car hits someone, guess who loses? It's not the car," Geslison said. "Any time we have any child or pedestrian hit, it's always a concern for us."
Edgemont Elementary School sits just west of Timpview High School on 3650 North, a street with heavy traffic and speedy drivers. Geslison said the Provo Police Department beefs up traffic patrols on streets near schools.
Crossing guards are a great tool for keeping pedestrians near schools safe, Geslison said. Mayor Billings reminded students that crossing guards are employees of the Provo City Police Department and have the authority to report motorists who violate traffic laws.
"We have some schools near some pretty busy roads," said Jay Mansanarez, a detective with the Provo Police Department who also serves as Timpview High School's school resource officer. "We just want to keep our kids safe. It's all about awareness."
Provo officials say they hope to see yellow antenna balls, which bear the slogan, "Provo Gives Kids a Brake!" dotting Provo streets. The antenna balls are being passed out at local schools, the Provo Library and at traffic school sessions.
"One of the key things we're trying to do is teach the importance of being safe," Billings said. "We want people to really know how dangerous it is if they don't follow the rules."
Pedestrian safety tips
Always walk on sidewalks.
Always stop at the curb.
Look left, then right, then left again before crossing the street.
Find another place to cross when traffic is blocked.
Even if the light is green, do not cross if you see a car coming or turning.
Be sure drivers see you before crossing the street.
Teach children to "ride right" and "walk left."
Bicycles are vehicles and should go in the same direction as traffic.
Watch for mid-block pedestrian crosswalks.
Slow down. Watch for children walking, playing and congregating near bus stops.
Remember, school crossing guards are employees of the Provo City Police Department and have the authority to report motorists who violate traffic laws.