Dangers of the School Parking Lot

Words: Julia Stitely

Photos: Adithi Soogoor

From the dawn of the school day to the afternoon, students and parents of Centennial are affected by the hardships of the school parking lot. In recent years, the parking lot has been known for being the site of several collisions. Between students running in between cars, ignorance to road signs and the layout of the parking lot, it’s no easy task for even the more experienced drivers.

The accidents, in part, could be caused by the overcrowding in Centennial.

Michael Guizzotti, Centennial’s security guard, expressed his concerns of the parking lot by saying, “We are overpopulated, so it’s not just the hallways that are crowded, it’s the parking lot too.”

“In the morning, it’s not that bad because I get there pretty early so I can get a good spot,” junior Casey Duhon said. “Sometimes I’ll be a little bit late and it could take me five minutes to get to a parking spot because the layout of the lot makes it so difficult.”

Michele Aylaian, mother of two Centennial students, expressed concern for students walking in from the parking lot in the morning.

“When they are late and running between cars, they are at risk of being hit by a driver who doesn’t see them,” she commented. “It’s stressful as a driver because you don’t know when a student is going to suddenly run in front of you.”

Afternoon Bottleneck

Things get hectic for Centennial students who drive to school when the clock hits 2:10. The sudden rush of students makes it easy to lose control in the crowded parking lot, giving the driver only a second to gain control before hitting something in their surroundings.

“Getting out of the parking lot after school is rather scary because everyone is rushing to get home and will cut people off when turning or switching lanes,” said Duhon.

Centennial principal, Cynthia Dillon, stated the design of the lot was not intended for the mass population.

“The lot wasn’t designed for the flow of traffic that comes through in the morning and in the afternoon,” said Dillon. “The way that the lot is marked, the road markings and the signage are not adequate.”

Dillon also believes that another problem that arises in the morning comes from parents letting their kids out in the closed second lane for drop off and in the parking rows themselves.

“People don’t honor the directions from the procedure of dropping kids off,” Dillon shared. “What they will do is pull into the second lane, but also the actual parking row.”

“They will drop their kids off one or two rows away,” Dillon added. “So the kids are walking through cars to get through the door.”

One solution that Dillon and the administrators are looking into is putting new signs up in the parking lot and painting on the roads.

“We have a stop sign on the Centennial side but they don’t have one on the Burleigh side, and they don’t have one on the main way,” Dillon said. “There should be a stop.”

Dillon and the administrators requested the Grounds Department in the Building Services Division of the Howard County system for another stop sign, and the lot is slated to be repainted in the summer.

Parking Permit Problems

In the past week, over 130 cars were found in the parking lot without a parking pass. The owners of these cars were warned that if they are found without a pass, parked on the lot, there would be disciplinary consequences.

Dillion stated the reason they did it in the end of the year rather than the beginning of the year was because of the increase of cars due to juniors starting to get their licenses.

She suggested that, “Families should take note of Safe Driver presentations and plan to attend one proactively. Students and a guardian must attend the presentation annually in order to be eligible for a parking permit.”

Some of the students that are affected are outraged by the situation. Junior Amelia Oliver lives in Old Ellicott City, and it takes her about 30 minutes to go to school.

“I think the passes should be based off where you live,” she said, “because some kids, it is much easier for them to drive. Others can walk.”

The Centennial Film Club found the humor in the parking lot situation by creating a mockumentary called Parking Purgatory and entered it into the Howard County Film Festival.

Senior, Carolin Harvey, with other members, filmed and edited the entry.

“Although our video is mostly comical, it does highlight how crazy our parking lot actually is,” Carolin answered. “The footage we captured of the morning and afternoon definitely captures some of that madness.”

The dangers of the Centennial parking lot continue to be a problem for the staff and students with the overcrowding population and the design of the parking lot. The solutions to these factors are soon to be solved; until then, students and parents are advised to stay alert and focus on the road.

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