P-CEP students express thoughts on school traffic issues


Mason Fraley

Student drivers at Salem High School parked at the Salem High School student lot. June 3,2022.

Every weekday, a teenage student sits through a long, hard day of classes just to find themselves stuck in the parking lot for another 20 minutes. Their guard is always up because there are cars coming towards them from all directions. The drive home is even more stressful than all of the classes combined. Unfortunately, most P-CEP (Plymouth-Canton Educational Park) students don’t have to envision this. It’s their everyday reality while trying to leave the high school campus.

“I feel like there is a lot of reckless driving and aggressiveness in the parking lot, especially with people cutting in line,” said Mallory Miller, Canton senior.

In a social media survey of 25 P-CEP students, 68% of them reported feeling unsafe in the school parking lots. An additional 20% said they “sometimes” feel unsafe, and only 12% said they rarely feel unsafe in the parking lots.

Most students who reported feeling unsafe blamed reckless and aggressive student drivers, specifically other students cutting in line. 

“People are impatient and cut you off constantly. They try to speed in front of you to get out quicker instead of waiting to be let in,” said Mack Adams, Salem senior. “The school is worried about catching people being late to class or trying to catch them leaving early, but they don’t pay attention to the everyday dangers students face while trying to enter, park and leave the parking lot.”

When discussing car accidents, 8% of students in the survey reported getting in an accident within the parking lot, which can risk significant damage to cars and the students.  Sophie Dorado, a Salem senior, was involved in an accident while leaving the Salem parking lot during the 2021-2022 school year. There were minor damages to her car and both parties were uninjured. 

To tackle the problem, students suggested ideas such as parent-specific lots, more entrances and exits, enforcement of a clearer exiting route and more security guards in the lots.

“There could be some arrows painted on the pavement so people know where they’re going,” said Max Stewart, Canton junior. “It also might be nice to have defined areas where kids can cross onto the sidewalk, and it would certainly make it easier to know where kids are going to be approaching from.” 

According to students, the danger doesn’t just start in the parking lot. Three out of the 25 students surveyed have been in an accident on the way to or the way home from school. Gabriella Fava, Salem senior, was a pedestrian. Both parties were uninjured.

Issues with the lot go beyond the school and affect traffic elsewhere in the surrounding areas.  Some students estimated that school traffic could cause drive time to increase up to three times the normal amount. Natalie Lorenz, Salem junior, reported that it took “30” minutes to drive to school with morning traffic, and “10” minutes normally. 

Of all solutions proposed to combat traffic issues, the addition of more entrances and exits was the most agreed upon. 

“One of the reasons I don’t park at Plymouth is because the drive gets so backed up. If there was a way to add a lane or two there or add another exit, I think that would be very helpful all around,” said Kendall Swatosh, Plymouth junior.

Students were split down the middle on whether they thought the lots were reliable. Thirteen out of the 25 students who completed the survey reported that they believed the lots were reliable, but some students had some worries about leaving their cars in the parking lots unattended. 

“I think they [the parking lots] are a little reliable, but school security is either constantly there [in the parking lot] or not there at all. I feel like high school kids just have a tendency to break things and ruin them, so my car isn’t safe,” said Miller. 

Those 13 students reported that they felt like locking their car doors was safe enough. However, other students felt like their belongings could be stolen or their car could be tampered with or damaged.

“I always double lock my car and make sure to keep it clean so people don’t write on my vehicle [in the dust],” said Sydney Andrews, Salem senior.

Three out of the 25 students in the survey reported that they were dropped off by a parent rather than driving themselves, and all three reported feeling unsafe during drop off. 

“It [the drop-off process] seems very disorganized,” said Stewart. “Nobody seems to know where they’re supposed to go in or out. In the morning it can be quite difficult to see where kids are coming from when they’re just trying to get to the sidewalk, which is obviously concerning.”

Getting out of cars and navigating to sidewalks in the dark at night and during the winter months could be potentially dangerous for students due to the abundance of traffic entering and leaving.

Not only do these unsafe conditions have the potential to harm students getting dropped off, they also impact walkers. Aiham Arpash, a Plymouth sophomore, walks or bikes to school everyday.

“Sometimes there are kids that drive recklessly,” Arpash said. “They should have paths that students can walk on that the parking lot doesn’t cut through.”

Through many different aspects, students have reported their mixed feelings about school parking lots and traffic. With so many different solutions to possibly install, it’s complicated to find a perfect solution to this problem.