The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

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Parking problems: The shortcomings of Wakefield’s student parking lot

Seth Steiner
Every day, hundreds of students of different ages with different levels of driving experience all convene in the parking lot. This often leads to incidents, ranging from minor bumps to expensive accidents, all of which causing headaches for those involved.

Any student who has driven through the parking lot at Wakefield High School this year knows how chaotic it is. From speeding cars to inattentive drivers, it’s far more dangerous than it needs to be, and action must be taken to address this issue.

Having so many young, inexperienced drivers in such a small space is bound to be a challenge, no matter how attentive and skilled they all are. Even still, Wakefield’s parking lot has become a hotbed for dangerous driving, and even accidents. Front office receptionist Maria Regan has been the first to hear of many of these accidents just after they’ve unfolded. She, like many others, knows how intense the parking lot problem is.

“[Students] report accidents about four times a month,” Regan said. “Sometimes they don’t report it, then a parent will call after a couple weeks and try to file a police report, [but] then [it] is too late.”

While school staff has to deal with these issues, students experience the biggest headaches that come along with accidents, ranging from insurance quotes to actually filing police reports. Their headaches don’t end there, however, as the process of sorting out these issues is often long and complicated, with the end result usually being less-than-desirable for all parties involved.

Some seniors, who have driven since sophomore year, have had a great deal of experiences in the parking lot. Close calls seem to be a daily occurrence for many, as everyone attempts to leave for lunch and at the end of the day all at the same time. Daniel Mattera, a senior at Wakefield, has seen several accidents in his time driving to and from the school.

“One [accident] was by the main exit, and then there was another one where a guy was rolling into his spot and floored it into the car in front of him,” Mattera said. “Then there was one [during lunch time] where a girl didn’t have the right of way and smacked into someone else.”

If people just follow directions and do what they’re supposed to do, there will be fewer accidents.

— Regan

While some of the problems present in the parking lot today can be chalked up to poor driving habits from high school students, it isn’t fair to put all of the blame on them. Exiting the lot at any time of day can prove to be a hassle, thanks in part to the poor design of the exits.

There is one primary exit at the front of the school which leads onto a street where three different directions of traffic all share the common goal of getting onto Wakefield Pines Dr., having to go through a single, one-lane exit. The alternative to this exit is a similar design near the back of the lot which feeds straight out onto Old Falls of Neuse Rd. With both exits serving as major bottlenecks for the flow of traffic, it’s easy to understand how and why long queues form in peak hours.

These sorts of backups in the parking lot heighten the chances of accidents, which have become quite common this year. These accidents are caused by a variety of reasons, such as students not stopping in time, texting and driving and even a lack of patience. Fortunately, most are slow-speed collisions, often involving little to no damage; however, some cases are not so fortunate. Ainsley Barlow, a junior, was unfortunately involved in such an accident, which caused quite a headache for her and her family early on in the school year.

“I got in a wreck with another student who was speeding through the parking spots, which ended in them hitting my car,” Barlow said. “It feels like every day I am almost getting hit by reckless people.”

So many young drivers in such a challenging driving situation is definitely a test for all students at Wakefield, but especially sophomores, who have only just begun getting their licenses. While the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles driver’s test makes sure teenagers are prepared for the most basic on-road situations, stop-and-go traffic in a parking lot is not one of these. Thus, such a new dynamic has led to numerous learning moments for sophomores like Micah Kinton, who got his license this year.

“I realized I need to be more careful when leaving the school,” Kinton said. “I need to leave more following distance to the car in front of me.”

The current state of the parking lot is definitely not ideal. But, if students begin to practice more courtesy for their fellow drivers by doing things like following the 10-mile-per-hour speed limit, letting people back out of their spots and adhering to the right of way, things can get better. Regan believes that this is very possible, and important for students to begin doing.

“If people just follow directions and do what they’re supposed to do, there will be fewer accidents,” Regan said.

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