Looking Out For You: Police monitor traffic flow at busy gate
September 30, 2011
HEIDELBERG, Germany--Even on a slow traffic day, the five points intersection near Burger King and the elementary school on Patrick Henry Village in Heidelberg can be tricky to maneuver.
Since school started in August, safety concerns at the intersection have increased, and U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Wuerrtemberg directorate of emergency services has stepped in to provide traffic guards during the heaviest pedestrian and vehicle movement times. Military police control the traffic from about 7:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and again after 2:45 p.m. Monday-Friday. The traffic investigation and MP sections alternate duties, said Staff Sgt. David Crocket, traffic investigations supervisor.
"With this time of day, we have physical training traffic leaving and people on their way to work. This is an extremely odd intersection for us, and with buses coming in and out, we just want the kids to get to school safely," Crocket explained.
Each morning at 7:30 a.m., the road closest to the school is partially blocked to allow parents to drop their children at the curb. Due to the configuration and limited parking space, though, Crocket advised drivers to exert caution in the area.
"We currently don't control traffic down there, so we really need people to use their heads when turning around," he said.
Even though military police help regulate the traffic, Crocket explained it's really up to drivers and pedestrians to pay careful attention to their surroundings and obey the traffic officer's
hand and arm signals.
"It can be extremely dangerous out here for the officer and pedestrians especially, (as) they can be blind sided by a driver not paying attention. We have zero tolerance for those who disobey
the offi cer's signals and we will cite those who do. We have already given out 10 tickets for this since school started and this particular citing adds four points to the license. We give no leeway when it comes to this," Crocket said.
Four points may not seem like a lot, but if drivers get just two more moving violations in six months, they lose their license for an entire year. Those extra points can come from just two
parking tickets and can add up fast, and the driver must then attend classes in order to receive his or her license back, said Crocket.
"We always have a spotter out here watching and taking down license plate numbers. They may not be wearing the MP brassard and could even be in civilian clothes, but they are out there. Regardless, it's important to still do the right thing. It's way too dangerous, and people are sometimes on their cell phone -- which they are not supposed to be on anyway -- and can take out a kid or Soldier," Crocket said.
Though military police receive extended traffic control training during military police school at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and must follow standard police signals. However, there may be some drivers or pedestrians who are unfamiliar with all of them.
"If you're not clear on what you're supposed to do, stop and let him tell you again. They'll get you through it," Crocket said.