Student driving accidents spark school wide discussion


Cate Escueta

After school the parking lot is filled with buses and students trying to leave in their cars.

Katherine Lombardi

There have been three accidents in the CHS parking lot involving student drivers in the 2016-17 school year. Principal James Gleason said the number is “definitely more than we’ve ever had before.”

The accidents occurred following the end of the school day and in the morning prior to the start of school, and they have garnered a variety of reactions from staff and students. Gleason said the causes of these accidents included “carelessness and not paying attention to your driving responsibilities.”

But junior Kate Ridoux of Wall said she was involved in one of the accidents and the other driver was at fault.

“It wasn’t my fault, a woman was driving on the opposite side road,” Ridoux said.

Following the rise in the number of accidents, Gleason held a meeting with all student drivers on Dec. 21 to discuss the causes and possible solutions of the issue.

“I met with the student body, specifically those that are driving, and I had a discussion with them… about how it’s their driver’s license and they have a very big responsibility when they’re behind the wheel,” Gleason said.  “I told everybody to slow down, be careful and take your time. The road is the same, the parking lot’s the same, the only thing that’s changed is the drivers.”

The topic of unsafe driving came up at an Instructional Council meeting on Dec. 13, said senior and instructional council member Matt Miller of Wall.

“There was a lot of concern over student safety; basically what types of solutions could we set in place to keep accidents from happening, whether that be to hire a crossing guard, have students wait until after the busses leave, or make sure teachers are outside and actively participating in parking lot duty,” Miller said.

Spanish teacher Gail Plumeri had bus duty last semester and said she witnessed some of the dangers of the parking lot at the end of the day.

I didn’t witness any accidents, but I did see that sometimes buses try to pull out while students are still crossing the parking lot, which is a potentially dangerous situation.  I also saw the same thing with parents picking up students,” Plumeri said. “In general the end of the day is just a really busy time on New Bedford Road, so anyone trying to get out of the parking lot has to be really careful.”

Senior Kevin Dixson of Wall suggested at the meeting that the district hire a traffic cop to regulate the left turn out of CHS.

“I think the school should pay the price and protect us, rather than make us pay the price after we get in an accident,” Dixson said. “Mr. Gleason cut me off mid-proposal at the meeting and told us to not turn left and instead go out of our way and drive in a circle, making three rights instead of a left. The students should be able to make a safe and conscious decision, rather than be forced to drive in a nonsensical loop.”

Gleason said a traffic guard will not be hired.

“I think the point is we need to stop blaming other people and start taking responsibility for our actions,” Gleason said, who believes the meeting had a major impact on stopping the accidents as students continue to drive to and from school.

“Since my meeting, there hasn’t really been any car incidents. I’m not saying there won’t be, but we hope to keep everyone safe.”