Motorists reminded to slow down in school zone

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Siuta B. Ika
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Every fall, the doors of Holloman AFB's schools open and welcome back the students from summer break.

What that means for the rest of the base is simple, said Dan Salinas, 49th Wing Ground Safety technician.

"All drivers on Holloman need to be extra cautious when driving into work in the morning and when they leave for home in the afternoon," he said. "There will be a lot of kids using the crosswalks, so even though there will be crossing guards out there, we want to make sure that people are aware of what's going on."

Cautious driving, Salinas said, doesn't just mean obeying the school zone speed limit of 15 miles per hour.

"The key is to not be distracted," Salinas said. "So that means slow down, pay attention to your surroundings, get off the cell phone, turn down the radio a little bit, and you shouldn't have any problems in those zones. That crosswalk on First Street and Arnold Avenue is a heavy traffic area already in the mornings and afternoons, so you need to make sure you are paying close attention to everything that's going on around you."

To help ensure the safety of the students walking to and from school, members of the 49th Security Forces Squadron Community Police unit monitor the school zone daily.

"At a minimum, there will be four of us out there, but we can have up to six, and we'll be there from the time when the yellow flashing lights turn on until the time they turn off," said Staff Sgt. Charles Williams, 49th SFS Community Policeman. "We monitor the speed of passing vehicles, we check for seatbelts, we look for blocking of the crosswalks, and we make sure that when the crossing guard is out there, that cars are not going through the area. Most people are pulled over for either blocking the crosswalk, which means they're not stopping before the stop sign, or they don't see the lights so we'll get them for speeding."

If cited, motorists may temporarily lose on-base driving privileges.

"For blocking a crosswalk, we issue a verbal warning or a traffic ticket, depending on how many times we've pulled over the individual," Williams said. "Speeding five miles per hour over the speed limit is an automatic, on base driving suspension for five days, plus you can receive a traffic ticket. A lot of people say they don't see the flashing lights, but at 7:30 every school day the lights will be on and we will be out there. We just want people to be more cautious, we're not doing this to harass them, but our main mission is to ensure the safety of the children and the safety of the public."

Ultimately, safety should always be on the forefront of people's minds, Salinas said.

"Everybody always pays close attention to that first week of when school is starting, but everybody should have in their mind that traffic safety in the school zone is an everyday thing," he said. "We want to make sure that those kids get to school and back safely. So when you see that flashing yellow light, that's the warning that this is an area with kids crossing the roads. You should be keyed into slowing down."