Parking at Edina High School; the perils and pitfalls

Syd Pierre, print editor-in-chief

Imagine this: you’re an upperclassman at Edina High School with a driver’s license and access to a car. The bell rings at the end of the day and students pour out into the hallways, keys in hand as they run to the parking lot. Upper lot or lower lot, it doesn’t matter; either way, you know you’ll be stuck waiting in a wave of students waiting to get home. 

Ask any student at EHS who drives to school and they’ll tell you that parking at school is no easy task. With only one entrance and exit into the parking lots, getting in and out of them can be a daily hassle. Years ago, the parking lot had two exits; one by the upper lot and a longer exit that looped around the back of the school, near Valley View. Now, they’ve narrowed down to one entrance/exit, which is divided into 3 lanes; two left turn lanes and one right. One of the left lanes is blocked off at the end of the day in order to create two exits and no extrances. With only two usable lanes at the end of the school day, it’s inevitable that long lines of cars form, creating traffic that can trap students in the parking lot anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on how fast they run to their cars. 

Although the administration reduced the entrance/exit points in order to make driving safer, it seems that that plan hasn’t exactly worked as promised. With the looming fear of getting stuck in the parking lot, students often resort to unsafe tactics to get out of school as fast as possible, including sprinting through the halls, leaving class early, and even hopping into their carpool’s car while it’s already in motion. Once they’re in the parking lot, students often disregard anything they’ve ever learned in driver’s ed and resort to aggressive, and occasionally dangerous, maneuvers to get out of the lot. Speeding, road rage, and distracted driving are common occurrences after school. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “there is also evidence from naturalistic driving studies that teens’ speeding behavior increases over time.” 

The wide age range and experience levels of students in the parking lot leads to varying levels of confidence behind the wheel. This also includes different strengths in driving abilities, which presents a problem when there is bad weather or distracting conditions like an excited carpool on Friday afternoon or a student trying to leave early from Flex Time. Combined with newer drivers and parents who are unaware of the so-called “rules of the road” of the parking lot, it’s easy for unsafe situations to happen. 

While EHS does plan in advance by blocking off the entrance to the lot near the end of the day to prevent too much confusion, providing numerous traffic directors, and implementing extra procedures in inclement weather, the fact remains that one entrance/exit isn’t enough for the amount of students who drive on a daily basis. It may be safer than having student drivers mixed in with exiting busses or parents, but there still are lasting consequences. More exits need to be added to both lots, in order to increase the overall safety of the parking lot, for students and parents alike.