Salinas ranks among the worst cities in the state when it comes to a child’s safety walking in public. That’s according to a study finding more kids under the age of 15 are getting hurt or killed by a car every year. For most districts kids are back on campus meaning thousands of students will be crossing busy streets to get to school. But some parents said they won’t allow their kids to walk to school on their own because of the fear they have for drivers on the road.
"It's very busy and a number of times we've almost been hit by cars right here. And even walking with my stroller and my two young children five and six, cars won't slow down,” said Salinas resident, Melissa Polivoi.
In the most recent Office of Traffic Safety report, Salinas is ranked 11th worst out of 56 cities of similar size for child pedestrian safety. From 2009 to 2013, 63 kids in Salinas were either injured or killed by a car. Crossing guards were eliminated years ago due to budget cuts but after pushing parents, Salinas City Elementary School District said it’s ready to bring them back.
"We have a little over 70 thousand dollars allocated in our LCAP, local control accountability plan for crossing guards. We’re looking at an hour before school and an hour after school,” said superintendent of Salinas City Elementary School District, Martha Martinez.
For Mission Park elementary, the change will usher in a new era. After a long-time crossing guard Jim Maloney was killed in a car accident in front of the school ten years ago.
"It wasn't probably his fault that he didn't see what was happening with the environmental conditions, the sun was in the approaching driver’s eyes,” said Director of transportation and safety, Terry Ryan.
The district said it plans to provide 12 crossing guards by mid-September but the revamp doesn’t end there. The superintendent said they are also repainting crosswalks and adding new, more visible signs.
"It makes me feel much better and much safer for my kids,” said Polivoi