The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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School traffic poses a dangerous threat to student life

Tires screech loudly as a teenager peels out of the parking garage at high speeds. Suddenly, their car comes to a halt and, before they know it, the lives of two people have been changed forever.

In a rush to get home, students tend to disregard driving laws on campus, and instead make reckless mistakes behind the wheel. (Sophia Sepulveda)

In 2019, construction of the Bowie parking garage began. The garage was completed in 2021 and has since been available for student and faculty parking. Many students took advantage of the new parking spots, but a parking garage can be hard to manage at times, especially for new drivers. The new garage has resulted in many hazardous situations and even a few accidents. Despite the drawbacks, according to students and administrators, overall, the parking garage benefits the Bowie campus.

“The garage was a good addition to the campus because it gave a lot of students space to park,” senior Lillian Ruxer said. “It’s especially nice because there isn’t Texas heat beaming down on our cars all day.”

An accident occurred on December 11, 2023, while a student driver exited the parking garage, and collided with a student crossing the road after class.

“Being patient, driving slowly, and not being distracted will help keep everyone safe,” assistant principal Whitney Black said. “Watching out for pedestrians is important because people are running to get to their cars, and they’re not paying close attention to what’s around them.”

According to a witness, sophomore Hanson Rusing, the pedestrian crossed without the crossing guards permission and was hit by a car exiting the parking garage. The injured student survived the accident but did require medical assistance, and an ambulance was called to campus.

“I saw the car leave the garage really fast,” Rusing said. “It all happened so quick, but the next thing I saw was the student on the ground and people crowding around them.”

After the accident, a police report was created and according to AISD SRO officer Christopher Mendoza “the driver left the garage at a normal speed.” He determined this after reviewing video of the incident. He noted in the report that the combination of the student not crossing properly and sun glare in the driver’s windshield were the biggest factors.

In a rush to get home, students tend to disregard driving laws on campus, and instead make reckless mistakes behind the wheel. Careless driving paired with a lack of patience makes it difficult for students to remain considerate of others on campus.

“Always be on the lookout for pedestrians,” Black said. “It’s important for all drivers to be vigilant and actively try to avoid accidents.”

Accidents aren’t the only conflict that plagues Bowie’s afternoon dismissals. Students rush to their cars to leave quickly when the bell rings at 4:35 p.m., and students who wait to get to their car face the possibility of being stuck in traffic.

“The biggest drawback of the garage is that it takes forever to get home after school,” Ruxer said. “The longest I’ve waited in Bowie traffic was 35 minutes, and that was just to turn on to Slaughter from the parking garage.”

According to biology teacher Jessica Davis, teachers are also feeling the pressure of dismissal times. Many students pack up before the bell rings in an effort to get out of class before they are dismissed. This causes frustration for many instructors.

“With a student body that is as large as Bowie’s, dismissal can be a bit chaotic as students run to get out of the parking lot,” Davis said. “Also, when students are released early, it is unfair to those that are held until the bell. Classrooms need to be consistent and hold all students to the bell.”

Students aren’t the only contributors to the traffic. Parents also play a role in this situation. According to Black, parents often pick up their students in non-designated lanes, which can be very dangerous for pedestrians.

“I have observed that students try to get off campus really fast,” Black said. “I am in the front of the school during dismissals and I have noticed that parents don’t follow a lot of the traffic rules, either. They are parking in handicapped spots, which is against the law, and picking up kids in the drive through lane.”

Although the current dismissal system is frustrating, the potential fixes for these situations aren’t foolproof either, and it will remain impossible to fully solve the issue.

“It is tough because the current dismissal system is congested and frustrating for drivers,” Davis said. “But, the potential solutions also come with their own set of issues.”

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