Volunteer, SFS urge caution at crosswalk



by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs


3/2/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala.  -- For drivers on Maxwell Boulevard in the morning, the sound of a whistle is a reminder to stop for pedestrians using the crosswalk between the Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development and the post office.

Armed with her whistle and reflective vest, Cheryl Palmer, a volunteer crossing guard, also places a sign telling drivers to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. But for her, the whistle is the most effective tool.

"I find with the whistle, it's a stopper," said Palmer, who works at the Holm Center. "Trust me, that whistle works. It makes a difference."

Palmer and the 42nd Security Forces Squadron are dedicated to ensuring the safety of pedestrians, most of whom use that crosswalk to go to the Holm Center or Maxwell Elementary Middle School.

"The security forces vehicles were parked at or near the Maxwell post office to help," said Master Sgt. Marvin Fleeting, noncommissioned officer in charge of integrated defense/police services at Maxwell. "We provide speed enforcement for areas where violations occur on a regular basis, especially in places where there is an abundance of pedestrian presence."

Recently the traffic safety work group removed the flashing school zone warning and signs stating the school zone hours. They installed signs noting the speed limit is 15 miles per hour whenever children are present.

Signs also define the parameters of the school zone, which extends from the post office to the youth center.

Though the speed limit decreases from 25 to 15 mph when children are present, Palmer said drivers sometimes forget to slow down or are not aware of the new signs. That's when she blows the whistle.

Security forces personnel are present to enforce the policy as well.

"We initiated an aggressive speed enforcement campaign," Fleeting said. "There were teams of security forces members out writing traffic citations for all who were violating the speed limit last week, and numerous violators were cited appropriately."

Pedestrians also have the responsibility to cross safely.

"We always advise pedestrians to look both ways before crossing the street," Fleeting said. "The safest point to cross any street or roadway at all times is where there is an active crossing guard."

Palmer said she agrees and encourages children to use her crosswalk. "We're out there to make sure they cross properly," she said of herself and the afternoon volunteers who help out when students go home after school.

Palmer said she loves to volunteer. She greets many of the pedestrians by name and gives a thumbs-up and smile to the drivers who stop at the crosswalk. "It's a joy to me," she said. "I love blowing the whistle."