Parking lot Drama

What to do when you get into an accident in the parking lot.

Lauren Berta, Editor in chief

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You’re driving along when suddenly your car begins to slide across the yellow line, marking the end of your lane. You turn the steering wheel and nothing happens; you’re still veering into the other lane. Your foot comes down hard on the brake pedal, but it barely slows your car. It may be too late.

This scene is what drivers face on icy roads, and an experience some Fort Wayne drivers are familiar with after the snow storm the weekend of Jan. 12th, which left the roads under several inches of ice and snow.

Even experienced drivers can have a scare happen to them, but for student drivers, the odds are worse. Add into the mix a busy parking lot, and the morning commute deserves a warning label.

One reason a high school parking lot is reason for increased caution is that at the parking lot’s busiest hours, most drivers are in a hurry. In the morning, students are in a rush to get to school on time, and the minute the last bell rings, students are eager to be gone.

“Rushed, impatient, and distracted driving behavior [is the cause of accidents in the parking lot],” Officer Chris Kramer said. “100% of these crashes are preventable.”

Drivers going too quickly or recklessly is a serious concern.

“Students have been prosecuted in Allen County and sent to prison recently for driving recklessly and causing the death of another person,” Kramer said. “You are responsible for the operation of that vehicle.”

Drivers need to be mindful of their speed and also their attention. A phone might not be out, the music might not be loud, but it’s important to remember that inexperienced drivers haven’t learned to multitask. Actions like holding a conversation while driving, are things that adults can do without getting into an accident, but inexperienced drivers can’t necessarily.

“My sister was telling me a story and I guess I was a little preoccupied with listening to her and responding to her that I didn’t see how close I was to the other car,”Julia Krauskopf (12) said. “Me being distracted was the biggest problem.”

The sheer quantity of drivers is also an element of the parking lot that makes it more tricky to navigate safely.

“I remember five, six years ago, the number [of registered drivers] about this time of year was fairly low. We were still below five hundred. And right now we’re at 838.”

On top of that 838 registered student drivers parking in the lot, this year’s freshman class is one of the biggest ever. When they hit their junior and senior year, the school will most likely have more registered drivers than ever before. The biggest concern associated with this is the business of the parking lot and even a lack of spots to park in, but there are, in fact, plenty of parking spots.

“Students get into their mind that there’s only this lot [closest to the building], and that lot [by the north end of the football field] that they can park in, and they forget about the south lot, which is the south end field of the football field.”

The south lot is next to the Environmental Center, a place many students are familiar with if they went to elementary school in the district, or have taken an environmental science class at Homestead. To many drivers, this lot is the farthest away from the school and thus poses the longest walk from their car. However, this is not the case.

“In actuality, it’s not [a farther walk] . . . It’s the same distance,” Kintz said. “We had an SRO go out one year with a [surveyor’s] wheel to prove it, but I think conceptually when kids look at it, they say it’s a much farther walk.”

Parking in the south lot is an equivalent alternative to the north lot in terms of distance, but it is a better alternative in terms of safety. The fact that people rarely park there, intimidated by what they think is a longer walk, can work to students’ advantage.

“You’re safer by parking out there because you walk into school and there’s sidewalks and stop signs,” Kintz said. “And leaving at the end of the day, there’s much less traffic flow and congestion of what’s close to the building.”

Whether students choose to park in the lot closest to the building, the north lot, or the south lot, the most important thing is to be as safe as possible.


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