OTTAWA -- Motorists and pedestrians will now be hearing two whistle blasts from crossing guards at City of Ottawa intersections.

The Ottawa Safety Council has issued a FOX-40 electronic whistle to crossing guards as part of a two-step whistle system to help them communicate with pedestrians and drivers. Crossing guards can click a button for the whistle to sound.

Crossing guards will now be using a two-step whistle system:

Step One – one long whistle blast:

The Ottawa Safety Council says the crossing guard determines it is safe to enter the crosswalk and will blow one long whistle blast to alert drivers they are stepping out

Step Two- two short whistle blasts:

The Ottawa Safety Council says once positioned safely in the intersection, the crossing guard will blow two short whistle blasts to indicate to pedestrians it is safe to proceed across the street.

Pedestrians are urged to listen to the crossing guard and wait until they say it is safe to go.

In a statement on Facebook, the Ottawa Safety Council says if motorists attempt to illegally proceed through the crosswalk while the crossing guard and pedestrian are still crossing, the guard may blow another long whistle blast to get the driver's attention to stop and wait.

"This year the guards are wearing mass to ensure the safety of their pedestrians," Kelly Banks, school zone safety program manager with the Ottawa Safety Council, told CTV News. "The mask muffles their verbal communication and covers half of their face, so eye contact and facial expressions with drivers is hindered by the masks. The whistles are an extra tool they can use to communicate with driver and thei pedestrians."

Eleanor Murnaghan works as a crossing guard at the intersection of Maitland Avenue and Glenmount Avenue, which she describes as very busy.

Murnaghan says she has seen an uptick in students walking to school and that the streets are getting busier. The whistle is an effective tool to ensure everyone using the roads stays safe. 

"It's worth its weight in gold as far as I'm concerned," says Murnaghan, while holding the whistle. "The traffic light was red and I had a crossing with kids this guy was coming up the hill speeding, not going to stop, I hit the whistle and got his attention and he stopped."

The Ottawa Safety Council says it hopes to be using an electronic whistle at each of their 262 monitored intersections by the end of the year.