Driving etiquette takes a back seat to impatient travelers

Natalie Gray

Driving annoyances used to consist of the elderly lady driving 20 mph under the speed limit with her blinker on or the person getting on the highway at 40 mph. It’s people like this who drive others on the road crazy, and then wonder why someone flipped them the bird. Everyone has two hands and one brain. All three are crucial while driving. It is really frustrating driving behind the person texting and putting on makeup while eating Taco Bell.

People are reaching new heights of stupidity by checking Facebook, tailgating and cutting off other drivers while driving. Safe driving skills are depleting rapidly, causing more accidents each year.

Driving safely is the simple act of not driving like a moron and remembering there are other cars on the road. Although a car has a bumper, it does not actually bump when plowing into another car at high speeds. The bumper might protect the car after a fender-bender on campus, but the higher the speed, the bigger the damage.

“When drivers are distracted, they’re not paying attention to road signs and the flow of traffic,” said Greg Thompson of University Police. “They’re looking at their phone and all of the sudden traffic stops for a pedestrian and the distracted driver ends up causing an accident.”

When behind the wheel of a car, the main focus should be on the road ahead and the surrounding cars. Even professional drivers, or the students who think they’re professionals, cannot properly and safely operate the vehicle while simultaneously playing Angry Birds.

Driving on campus causes enough anxiety without some NASCAR enthusiast going 35 mph in the parking garage. No one cares about how “cool” someone looks peeling out of the structure, but they do care about making it home in one piece. In March 2012, a speeding driver lost control of her vehicle injuring one student and causing damage to six other cars in the structure.

“The first week of school is always the worst for driving on campus,” said junior biology major Milton Sarlis. “People aren’t courteous and drive like they’re the only person who has to be somewhere.”

There’s a certain level of safety students should expect on campus. Poor driving and discourteous drivers put pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers at risk.

“People drive way too fast in the parking structures,” Sarlis said. “My daughter was with me one day and I picked her up because I was legitimately concerned about her safety.”

While some people don’t seem to care about horrible driving, other drivers are distracted, focusing on their phone instead of the freshman they mowed down in the crosswalk.

“Driving is a problem, but pedestrians also cause problems when they don’t pay attention before crossing,” said junior graphic design major Brianna McGilbra. “I realize they have the right of way, but a mutual respect (between drivers and pedestrians) would be nice.”

Students walk across campus with headphones in and eyes glued to their iPhone oblivious to cars, acting like they’re invincible. This can cause drivers to slam on the brakes to avoid running them over and, depending on traffic, can cause a car pile up. Pedestrians do have the right of way, but they should pay closer attention to the two-ton cars driving around them.

Since the start of the semester, there have been four vehicle accidents reported and approximately 8 to 10 accidents either not reported or only required a name exchange, according to Officer Thompson. The most common citation is given for rolling stop signs.

“In the past five years, I haven’t noticed much difference regarding campus driving,” Thompson said. “People driving on campus seem more courteous than those driving around the city. With higher foot and bicycle traffic and a more controlled driving environment, people have to be more observant.”

Everyone driving on campus is trying to find parking and get to where they need to be. To avoid more collisions, people driving on campus need to slow down and take their time.

Speeding through parking lots is one of the biggest driving hazards on campus, so students rushing to school to find parking and avoid being late to class need to plan ahead. Whether that means not being sluggish in the morning and waking up 30 minutes earlier, or kicking out the booty call sooner. One person’s lack of timeliness should not affect the safety of people on campus.

Driving is a fast-paced and often chaotic activity most people do daily. To evade seriously injuring someone or yourself, it’s imperative to be vigilant. Students stress about being on time to class, but next time you speed through campus and roll stop signs, think of how late you’ll be after ramming a car in the parking lot.


Natalie Gray can be reached at: [email protected]