A student hurries out of the student parking lot, rushing to get to class as the first bell of the morning rings. Nothing will get in the way of her path or veer her off course. Similarly, a woman in a red Honda has the same goal in mind: getting her son to class on time. Stopping just outside the Eagle Theatre the woman looks to the passenger door as her son stumbles out with backpack clutched in hand. Not bothering to look, the woman takes off just as the door closes. She slams on the brakes just as quickly when a student rushes past the head of her car, just barely brushing her.
The mornings in the student parking lot are chaotic. Students rush to get good parking spots, parents try to pull up in front of the theater and people swerve in and out of cars to walk safely out of the lot. Some say it is inevitable, that the parking lot is bound to be dangerous with the hordes of new teenage drivers.
This may certainly be true, but parents do not make it any easier by coming into the lot to drop off kids.
“[Parents] park in the most inconvenient locations, which I would think that most people would not deem an appropriate spot to park their car to drop someone off,” junior Naomi Palmer said. “I don’t understand why they can’t just drop their child off in the front. I mean it’s hard getting in and out of that parking lot. If you just pulled up in the front of the school, it would be significantly faster. Personally, prior to driving, I had never been dropped off in the parking lot. I was always dropped off in the front and it was much easier.”
The front of the school is indeed, a far more ideal spot to drop off students. There is even a pass-through designed specifically for such occasions.
“The pass-through is arguably the easiest way [to drop off kids],” Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg said. “It’s just that, when you have that many cars and that many people in a condensed period of time, you’re going to have traffic problems.”
While Almond Avenue is not much better in terms of traffic, using the parking lot to drop someone off hinders the students driving there, who, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, are much more likely to get into an accident. Of course, there’s nothing to say that parents are not allowed to use the parking lot for such purposes.
“[Parents] are allowed to drop off their kids in the parking lot,” Assistant Principal Cristy Dawson said. “I mean, as kids get older, parents should get the heck out of here but if you’re a ninth grader or a tenth grader, you need a ride. [Parents] care more about making sure that they can get their kids here in the rain, for lessons, for events, or for club things.”
Even so, it makes it so much easier for everyone concerned when other means are utilized. Besides the pass-through in the front, the back of the school is just as useable for a quick drop-off.
“Personally, I prefer the front of the school or the half circle [to drop students off] because the cars seem to follow the same rules, they’re all going the same direction,” Los Altos parent Gail Reid said. “But in the parking lot, cars are going in, cars are coming out, and there’s often students walking around. The parking lot is just a complete nightmare.”
For parents who see this as an inconvenience and the parking lot is the only possibility, then it is important to be aware of the time.
“If you have to leave the second the bell rings and everybody else has to leave the second the bell rings and everybody has to pick their students up the second the bell rings then there is gonna be a problem,” Rosenberg said. “For me, in the morning on the occasions that I get there close to the bell, it’s a pain, but when I’m there early, it’s no problem.”
Getting to school a few minutes earlier reduces the traffic significantly. The parking lot is free for anyone to use for dropping off, parking, or for simply passing through. The hysteria comes when everyone is worried about being late and are rushing to get in and out.
“The goal is to spread out the flow of traffic or eliminate it entirely,” Rosenberg said. “If people got to school earlier, used the pass-through, rode their bikes or used another mode of transportation like the bus, then there would not be a problem.”
So, in order to avoid the chaos of the parking lot, parents and students should use the front of the school or the pass-through, unless arriving early, in which case the parking lot is open and free of its usual dangerous traffic.