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Teacher uses Tom Brady cutouts to get cars to slow down in school zone

A teacher in Roxbury put cut outs of Tom Brady's head on crosswalk signs outside of the Ellis Elementary School so drivers would slow down. WalkBoston

On the field, Tom Brady can do it all.

But on Boston’s streets, can he help slow down speedy drivers?

That’s what physical education teacher Sam Balto wanted to find out Wednesday morning when he affixed laminated cut-outs of the star quarterback’s head to pedestrian crossing signs in two locations outside of the Ellis Elementary School in Roxbury.

Balto hatched his plan after months of watching as drivers recklessly zipped through the 20-mile-per-hour school zone where students walk to and from the building in the mornings and after class, ignoring the flashing yellow lights and existing speed limit warnings.


Before the Brady heads appeared, Balto said drivers were so inattentive, they would strike the crosswalk posts that were recently placed in the street near the school, knocking them over and leaving them mangled in the road. His thought was that if people saw the New England icon on top of the signs, they’d be more careful.

“This is Boston, and Tom Brady is a champion and a leader. And when Tom Brady is getting sacked, [Bill] Belichick makes sure he changes the plays and improves safety for him,” said Balto, who has worked at the school for three years. “If the Pats make moves for safety for Brady not to get sacked, I hope this can improve the safety of our students crossing the street.”

Balto launched the experiment on Walnut Avenue with the help of Brendan Kearney, a spokesman for WalkBoston, an advocacy group that works to make streets safer for pedestrians around the city.

“People really fly down Walnut Avenue or use it as a cut through, and that’s not right on any neighborhood street — let alone one with so many kids walking down it,” said Kearney. “I’m glad Sam has taken this step. He’s looking at a way to call attention to the crosswalk. . . . If Tom Brady can make that happen it’s great.”


In October, Balto used Twitter to post pictures of a speed radar monitor he used to clock drivers’ speeds in the neighborhood. In some cases, the drivers hit high numbers, he said.

“Eating my lunch I would sit outside and have it running,” he said. “Fifty-six miles an hour in a school zone, on Walnut Avenue, when the 20-mile-an-hour lights are flashing. You know, 30, 46 [miles per hour] — people drive fast.”

But on Wednesday, as cars came traveling by the school and children skipped off to class, Balto and Kearney said vehicles slowed to take in the face of Brady perched atop the two crosswalk signs.

“Did it work? Yes, absolutely,” he said. “Also we need a smile, everybody needs to put a smile on their face. Tom Brady is one good-looking guy. If I can get my kids to smile and their parents to smile, that’s a great way to start the day.”

Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.