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Last Updated: Friday October 16 2009 12:43 GMT

Ricky helps out school lollipop patrol

Ricky and Peter in their school lollipop uniforms

Ricky finds lollipop helpers at risk

Wearing brightly-coloured tops you can hardly miss, lollipop men and women across the UK have been helping children cross busy roads to school for more than 50 years.

But as Ricky's been finding out, a shortage across the country means it's the lollipop guys who could be most in need of help.

"I've reported on lots of exciting stories for Newsround and I've filmed in some rather unusual locations.

But today I've been sent to Burnley, in the north of England, to take up a different job altogether. For one day only, I've transformed into a lollipop man!

Lives at risk

Peter the lollipop man with some of the children he helps across the road
Peter the lollipop man with some of the children he helps to cross roads safely

Lollipop men and women have been helping kids to walk safely across roads near schools for more than 50 years.

But recently some of them have been getting a hard time. It's estimated that 5,000 drivers every year fail to stop when they're told to, putting thousands of children's lives at risk.

Some lollipop people even get abuse from drivers, although that mainly happens around schools in towns centres and busy cities.

To try to combat this, councils are putting cameras inside lollipop people's hats to record any incidents of bad behaviour.

Oversized hat

It's no wonder there's a bit of a shortage across the UK.

Peter the lollipop man
Peter Griffiths has been a lollipop man for 10 years

In Coventry, there are 50 schools without a lollipop person and there are around 30 schools in Cardiff and Cumbria without one.

Many councils are working hard, trying to recruit more so I was sent to Burnley to find out exactly what the job is all about.

Of course, I was more excited about putting on the bright yellow uniform than anything else, but it had to be said, the oversized hat didn't really do me any justice.

Peter Griffiths, the lollipop man at the school I visited, trained me how to handle the school rush.

Words of wisdom

At around 3.30pm the playground was crowded with children waiting to be picked up by their parents or walk home.

Ricky reporting for duty with lollipop man Peter

The school is right next to a busy country road and every couple of seconds a coach, lorry or car zoomed pass. It was my responsibility to make sure the kids walked across the road safely.

I think I did a pretty good job. Then again I had a brilliant teacher - 70-year-old Peter has been a lollipop man for 10 years.

So what were his words of wisdom for me at the end of my shift?!

He said: "Ricky, don't give up your day job."

Fair enough Peter. I'll stick to being a Newsround reporter."