Gov. Bruce Rauner has declared Monday, May 7, as Crossing Guard Appreciation Day in recognition of the vital role these public servants play in ensuring that children throughout the state can walk and bike to and from school safely.

"Kids naturally look to grownups for help. Seeing a familiar face from down the block can make crossing a busy street that much less intimidating," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. "With warmer temperatures here and more children walking and biking, crossing guards will be working hard to keep them safe."

Crossing guards help students learn safe pedestrian habits, such as looking both ways before stepping into the road and walking bikes across the street. Guards also serve as an additional warning to motorists, reminding them to slow down in school zones when children are crossing.

Roughly 450 pedestrians between the ages of 8 and 14 are hurt in vehicle-related incidents every year in Illinois. This number would be much higher if it weren't for crossing guards.