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Crossing guard slows traffic with hair dryer

For years, nothing crossing guard Dale Rooks did _ waving, signaling, even screaming _ made speeders slow down by his post outside an elementary school. Then he got out his hair dryer.

Now everyone slows down approaching the school, and pleased local authorities say using the radar gun look-alike to control traffic in a school zone appears to be perfectly legal.

Rooks made a few adjustments to the hair dryer, including wrapping it with electrical tape.

Drivers hit their brakes when they see it aimed at them.

"It's almost comical," said Rooks, 47. "People are slowing down, raising their hands at me apologetically. It's amazing how well it works."

Rooks got a visit at work recently from Pensacola police Chief Jerry Potts, who wanted to try out the fake radar gun himself.

"The first car I held it up to, they slowed right down," Potts said. "It's original, it's unique, and I don't see any harm in it."

Also pleased is John DeWitt, chairman of the Escambia County School Board.

Speeding is a problem near all of the county's schools, according to DeWitt. Whistles and signs reading "Slow Down" used at several schools help, DeWitt said, but Rooks' hair dryer is perhaps the most effective solution so far.

"I congratulated him, and think it was one of the most innovative and creative ideas I've seen," said the School Board chairman.

However, DeWitt added, authorization of hair dryers as crossing guards' equipment "will never become a board policy."