Parking Lot Panic Common Among Student Drivers


Rachel Dionne

Nonnewaug has installed speedbumps and speed radar signs in the parking lot to try to make it safer for drivers.

Rachel Dionne, Reporter

WOODBURY — Pulling in or pulling out of the parking lot can be stressful for Nonnewaug students and staff. Whether it’s being stuck in the lines or people tailgating, the junior lot especially can be a hard place to park.

Many of us in the parking lot between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. are fairly new drivers, with just months of practice behind the wheel.

“Traffic at NHS is very heavy at these times and it is very important for drivers to follow the speed limit and be aware of their surroundings,” says Chris O’Toole, Nonnewaug’s school resource officer. “There are a lot of vehicles, pedestrians, and buses at NHS and it can get overwhelming for inexperienced drivers.”

34% of 16- and 17-year-olds admit that they send and respond to text messages while driving, according to studies done by Edgar Snyder Law Firm.

“When I speak to the students I always press upon them to drive slowly, don’t be distracted, and watch out for pedestrians,” says O’Toole.  “The last thing anyone wants is to have any type of motor vehicle tragedy at the high school or anywhere.”

Not only are the school parking lots busy, but the surrounding roads are as well.

According to a study found in 2019 by the Centers for Disease Control on distracted driving, 39% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days texted or emailed while driving on at least one of those days.

Most schools tend to have a police officer or somebody that directs traffic. As many students and staff know, O’Toole is Nonnewaug’s SRO who helps direct traffic.

“When I am observing traffic in the mornings and afternoons I see drivers going above the posted speed limit as well as playing loud music, which can be distracting,” says O’Toole.

Due to the tendency for socializing, students are more likely to use their phones while operating a vehicle. Other passengers or loud music can be two more distractions that can factor for drivers’ attention.

“I’ve switched my music while driving, and quickly checked messages before,” says Nonnewaug junior Zosia Olejniczak.

DriveSafe Colorado advises keeping in mind that parking will be safer and simpler if you arrive sooner.

Finding a good parking spot will be easier for you will be less likely to run into circumstances that result in crashes, frustration, or vehicle damage the sooner he or she leaves for school.

“I try to get here around 7:10 in the mornings to avoid traffic,” says Olejniczak.

Students who get here on time usually have an advantage.

“Yeah it’s kinda annoying sometimes having to leave my house earlier,” says junior Sara Norton. “In the end, though, it does help me to be on time to my classes and not be stuck in the parking lot.”

Schools like Nonnewaug have implemented speedbumps and speed radar signs in hopes of decreasing unsafe driving.