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Sunday, October 24, 1999 Published at 00:08 GMT 01:08 UK


Lollipop ladies go back to school

Road rage threatens lollipop men and women

By the BBC's Bob Walker

In a school gymnasium in Derby, half a dozen lollipop ladies of a certain age are learning how to deal with the stresses and strains of the job.

As well as the usual advice on rules of the road, they are being taught how to cope with the growing problem of aggressive drivers.

Road rage - that 90s phenomenon which has seen irate drivers square up to one another on a daily basis - is now afflicting the school crossing warden.

In the first six months of the year in Derbyshire, three wardens needed hospital treatment after being hit by cars, and more than 60 complained of intimidation from drivers.

Now lollipop ladies are receiving special training originally used to help bouncers deal with drunken nightclub revellers.

The courses are being run by Derby City Council. Elaine Boole, who guards a crossing on Derby's busy outer ring road, was one of the first to take part.

'Dislike of uniform'

Mrs Boole, a diminutive and inoffensive figure in her cap and fluorescent uniform, often has to stand firm in the face of driver aggression.

"I get people getting out of their cars to give me very abusive language, they go past without stopping when I'm stood in the middle," she said.

Mrs Boole said the course had proved useful. "You have to remember that it isn't you personally, it is your job that they are threatening and being abusive to not you.

"Perhaps they're in a hurry, all sorts of things, perhaps they just don't like uniform."

Rude words

Another victim of road rage was Eileen Smith, who found a motorist edging his vehicle closer and closer to her as she stood in the middle of the road.

She said: "He called me a lot of rude words. His passenger got out and started calling me a lot of other rude names. I stood in front of the car so it couldn't go anywhere and took the number."

The lollipop ladies are being taught how to recognise potentially dangerous drivers and how to defuse tense situations through body language.

Course organiser Matthew Deakin said some thoughtless motorists are frightening lollipop ladies and threatening recruitment.

He said: "It can be a thankless job. They go out in all weathers and it's not a job that everybody would like.

"It may make them think twice about doing it again and we have had some people in the past who have decided that it was too much for them."

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