Parking lot traffic needs to be curbed

Parking lot traffic needs to be curbed

Every day at 3:00, 849 inexperienced drivers swiftly walk out of school and rush to get out of the high school parking lot. Most people can remember when they have seen or been told about a crash in the school lot. 


Donaldson Law states that every year, an average of 50,000 crashes happen in parking lots and parking garages, according to the National Safety Council. Prior Lake High school is no exception. 


Parking lots are becoming increasingly more dangerous with teens behind the wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience. 


For many, it takes as much as 20 minutes to get out of the parking lot. Many students have after-school activities and consistently arrive late to practice, and many just want to get home. 


Traffic flow could be managed better with something as simple as scattered release times. Akin to our different lunch release times, we could also have varying release times for the end of the school day.


Students could be released in accordance with their last-hour pod. If they were released with even as little as a minute in between, it would help traffic. 


Prior Lake could dedicate the last 5 minutes of sixth hour every day to dismissal times. For example, dismissal would start at 2:55 every day. Starting with D pod, then C, B, A, and finally “other” classrooms such as the health rooms.


Another solution could include a two-bell system. At 2:57 every day, the first bell can ring, releasing juniors and seniors, and at 3:00, freshmen and sophomores. 


Sure, students could sit and wait through 20 minutes of traffic. However, with the number of kids released at once, the chances of crashes increase significantly. 


Another unforeseen problem is that many kids have their parents pick them up from school. Added to the congestion of a large student body trying to leave, parents trying to get in and pick up their children makes for a stressful experience.


A further complication is that many students have after-school sports. For many sports that practice on campus, this may not be an issue. However, teams such as ice hockey, swim, soccer, and alpine ski need to travel off campus for team practice. 


Most athletes will arrive barely on time or even a couple of minutes late, for which there is usually a penalty. The parking lot solutions previously suggested would ensure all Lakers are on time for their activities and allow for some breathing room.


With a whopping 2,922 students at Prior Lake, it’s no secret that the school can get crowded. Many schools across the country are experimenting with staggered release times to accommodate substantial amounts of students. With Prior Lake only getting bigger, it is time for the school to start experimenting with different release times as well.