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February 18, 2013

Unsafe Driving in Student Parking Lot a Common Occurrence

by Mariah Schaefer

To most students at Centennial High School, the student parking lot is just a simple space between the high school and the outside world. Students typically only spend a few minutes in the parking lot — just enough time to park their cars and walk to the school building. Due to the fact that parking a car in the parking lot only takes up a tiny fraction of students’ days, most people overlook the danger that lies within that area.

According to the school handbook, the speed limit for the student parking lot is five miles per hour. Despite that fact, it’s definitely not uncommon to see students speeding.

“I see [students speeding in the parking lot] every day. Everyone always goes way above the speed limit,” said Ashleigh O’Dell, a junior at Centennial High School.

Tam Le, another junior at Centennial added, “[Some students] think it’s cool to drive fast.”

To further comprehend why some students feel the need to speed in the parking lot, The Centinal talked to Resource Officer Edward Wachala.

“I think the reason students drive too fast in the parking lot is, when they go to lunch, they’re in a hurry to get there — they have almost a whole hour; they have plenty of time. [Students] always want to be the first ones out of the lot, so then they go too fast trying to get out of the lot quicker than everybody else. And I think that, sometimes, kids are driving too fast just because they think it’s funny,” commented Wachala.

It’s easy to see students speeding when they are leaving for lunch or at the end of the day. During those times, safety seems to be the last thing on students’ minds. Some cars drive over the sidewalk separating the senior parking spots from the rest of the lot, most times not even looking to see if students are walking in that area.

Another thing that happens very often is some students, to dodge the traffic in the parking lot, drive over the grass next to the senior parking lot in order to get to the exit quicker.

“It’s almost impossible to control [speeding in the parking lot],” stated Wachala. “It’s considered private property, so it’s not any place you are going to get a ticket. But I’ll be out there sometimes walking through the lot — I’ll give you an example: yesterday, there was somebody going through the lot too fast, and I walked up to him and just explained to him why it wasn’t safe and why it was dangerous, and he had to slow down. So, it’s really hard to control, especially one guy, because if I’m standing there, nobody speeds, but if I’m not there, they might.”

Speeding isn’t the only unsafe thing some student drivers do in the parking lot.

“Some people back up really fast into another person and not look. Others tend to joke around and pretend to hit [pedestrians]. This shows that they are not really mature enough to have their licenses. I don’t really know how you can fix you the problem, but it definitely is a big issue at Centennial,” noted O’Dell.

Due of the fact that some drivers aren’t really careful when they drive through the student parking lot, several students fear something will happen to them.

“I’m scared of someone hitting my car… or me,” mentioned Le.

Even though some drivers’ actions scare a few students, the students should know that there are adults looking out for them.

“First and foremost, my concern is for the safety of the people who speed and the people who might be around them or in other cars. I also think of disappointment that they’re not driving safely as they should in the parking lot. Basically, I’m just concerned for everybody’s safety. When I see [someone driving dangerously], I always go and address it, whatever that might be. But when I’m watching, kids tend to behave,” commented Wachala.

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