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Crossing the Road to Safety
Transcript of Crossing the Road to Safety
Part 1: What is the issue?
The Wauwatosa West parking lot is full of accidents waiting to happen. Reckless drivers are the main problem because they are driving over the marked speed limit of five mph, not slowing down at crosswalks, not yielding to pedestrians, and at times blaze through the clearly marked stop signs next to the Elementary school.
Part 2: What are some possible solutions?
There are many possible solutions to stop the careless activities that occur in the Wauwatosa West parking lot, but only a few solutions can be directly applied to the West parking lot due to the fact the every parking lot along with every school district or business is unique.
Part 3: What is the best solution?
To find the best solution looking at how other schools fixed the parking lots. Two solutions continued to come up when looking into parking lot safety. The first is a designated drop-off/pick-up site, and the second is having volunteer crossing guards in the parking lot (ITE).
In the end when this plan is in action I hope that I create a safe parking lot where everyone can go about safely and there is a reduced chance of accidents. Also I hope that other schools in the district will see the success of the West parking lot and follow us by example and create similar programs to improve their own parking lots; helping create a community where everyone can be safe and work together to make the Wauwatosa West parking lot a better place.
Part 4: What is the plan to fix the issue?
In the past the Wauwatosa School District has tried to fix the problems in the parking lot. Particularly after Megan O'Rourke's accident 5 years ago where her leg was run over by a driver going 45 mph in the parking lot. At the time of Megan's accident there wasn't a lot of safety precautions in the parking lot, but when Megan's accident happened the School District realized that something had to be done. So they put in speed bumps, more cross walks, stop signs, and created a designated speed limit of 5 mph.
Five years after Megan's accident and the new parking lot additions the Wauwatosa West parking lot has become unsafe again. People have become careless by ignoring such things as cross walks and stop signs. Public opinion on the parking lot is starting to change, and people are starting to realize that the lot isn't as safe as it could be. The West parking lot didn't have this problem when Megan had her accident, but rather it has been a growing problem for many years as people are driving more instead of walking to school/work (La Vigne). This means there are more cars driving around little children who are not capable of understanding the dangers in the parking lot (La Vigne).
Knowing that people aren't safe in the parking lot anymore the Wauwatosa community is coming together to battle the problem. Just in this past year a project was put into motion to start working on minimizing the traffic congestion in the parking lot and streets leading to the lot hopefully reducing the risk of any possible accidents. This issue is confined mostly to our local government, so it is up to the community and local officials to fix the parking lot. Although the State government has some say in the matter. For example, some of the money to fix the issue may be from them, and they have set some laws regarding parking lots and driving.
Some laws from our State government regarding parking lots and driving are...
"No person may endanger the safety of any person or property by the negligent operation of a vehicle"
"No person shall drive a vehicle in excess of any speed limit established pursuant to law by state or local authorities and indicated by official signs"
"No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under conditions and having regard for the actual and potential hazards then existing. The speed of a vehicle shall be controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any object, person, [or] vehicle"
"The operator of every vehicle shall [...] drive at an appropriate reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection [or] [...] when passing school children"
Solution #1: More accessibility
This solution calls for creating more entrance/access locations to get into the parking lot versus the one entrance that is there now.
If we had more entrances it would allow more people to get into the parking lot at once, and it would clear up any traffic congestion that pools around the entrance on Center Street.
Adding more entrances would allow more people to come into the parking lot at once clearing up center street, but then there would be too many cars in the parking lot at once therefore causing complications with traffic and pedestrian crossings. With too many cars in the lot there is more room for error to cause an accident. Also, the way the High School and Elementary school are positioned there is not enough space to make more entrances without cutting into the school prairie or pedestrian walking areas.
Solution #2: Walking to School
This solution has the schools encouraging students that live withing a 1/2 mile to 3/4 mile radius of the High School or Elementary school to walk to school.
This solution would hopefully decrease the amount of unnecessary traffic around the schools and in the parking lot by increasing foot traffic. Also, it encourages students and their families to get outside and be healthy by walking to school instead of sitting in a car and driving.
This solution is a good idea for other schools maybe, but for Wisconsin schools it isn't because of our climate. Wisconsin experiences such dramatic changes in the temperature and weather throughout the year that it makes it a difficult task due to the blizzards, rain, and extreme heat.
Solution #3: Improving Traffic Signals
This solution would involve making traffic signals more clear to drivers and pedestrians. For example, repainting the crosswalks and making the speed limit more noticeable.
Repainting the crosswalks would make pedestrian crossings more visible for pedestrians therefore limiting jay-walking, and drivers allowing them to have ample time to slow down and check for pedestrians. Also, making the speed limit more noticeable would hopefully increase the amount of people who obey the speed limit.
Even if these improvements were installed there is no guarantee that people would obey them. For example Zaynab H., Alexandra Z., and myself did a study last school year with a police issued speed radar gun to see how fast people drive int he parking lot. The area we tested the speeds the drivers had a clear view of the speed limit sign, and when we tallied our data out of about 150 cars only 1 car was driving the correct speed limit of 5 mph.
A combination of these two solutions is the most ideal answer to the problem in the Wauwatosa West parking lot because it has little to no cost, and it has been very successful in other schools.
For this solution to work there would have to be two designated drop-off/pick-up sites because both the High School and Elementary school share the parking lot. Therefore the two schools could have separated traffic clearing up some of the congestion in the parking lot and on Center Street.
How would this work?
Volunteer Crossing Guards:
The crossing guards would make the parking lot safer because they would help younger children cross the lot and make it clear for others where the crosswalk is. For this to work the crossing guards would be placed at the major crosswalks in the morning before school and in the afternoon when school it let out. Also, the crossing guard could be placed at the drop-off/pick-up sites to help get kids from their cars to school safely.
If this program was put into action then the Wauwatosa West parking lot would be a lot more safe because then traffic congestion would be limited, and pedestrians would be more safe crossing the parking lot. With these two advantages the likeliness that there would be any accidents is reduced significantly, therefore, increasing public safety making everyone feel more at ease when driving/walking in the West parking lot.
To make the Wauwatosa West parking lot more safe is to use a program that has volunteer crossing guard in the parking lot and having designated drop-off/pick-up sites. For this plan to work five different steps need to be taken to get this program going in the West parking lot.
Step #1: Get a Petition
I would have fellow students, teachers, and parents sign the petition.
I would present the petition that says that the Wauwatosa West parking lot is unsafe and needs attention along with a brief outline of my plan to students and teachers at the High School and Elementary school by having a area for signing at lunch so they can come on their own and voice their opinions. Also I would carry the petition with me to my classes hopefully getting my classmates to sign the petition. Along with the student and teacher signatures I would present my plan to the PTA(s) at the High School and Elementary school so that I could have parental support too.
Step #2: Principals' approval
I would then get the support of Wauwatosa West's principal, Frank Calarco, and Eisenhower's principal, Kristin Bowers.
After having the petition signed by the community I would set up appointments with the principals of the High School and Elementary school since both schools share the parking lot. Once I meet with them I will present the petition and the plan explaining how it is cost effective, helps the community by offering service opportunities to be a crossing guard, and makes everyone more safe.
To get approval from officials making the plan more credible
With the support of the community the plan will stand out more to higher officials.
Step #3: Meet with the School Board
I would meet with the School Board for the Wauwatosa Community next to present my plan.
Meeting with the School Board with again give my plan more credible support, and they will move my plan farther so that I can finalize it.
I would find a way to get approval to present my plan to the School Board, and once I'm at the meeting I will let them know that the community and principals support my plan to improve the parking lot because it is simple, cost-efficient, and it allows people to get involved with their community by volunteering.
Step #4: Last Stop of Approval
To get my final stamp of approval I will meet with Wauwatosa School District Superintendent, Dr. Ertl.
I want to meet Dr. Ertl last because he would have the final approval for my plan.
I would set up an appointment to meet Dr. Ertl, and once I meet with him I will present my plan and explain to him that the community, principals, and school board support me.
Step #5: Going into Action
Once I have all the approval I need to start my plan I will work with the Principals and the School Board to get all the logistical work done, and we will work together to make sure the Wauwatosa West parking lot is a safer place to be.
LaVigne, Nancy. "Problem-Oriented Guides for Police." Traffic Congestion
Around Schools. N.p., August 2007. Web 5 July 2013. <http://www.cops.usdoj.gov>
"Wisconsin Legislature: 346.503" Wisconsin Legislative Documents. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 July 2013. <http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov>
ITE. "Safe Routes to School Briefing Sheets." Strategies to Improve Traffic Operations and Safety. ITE, n.d. Web. 5 July 2013. <http://www.ite.org>
For more information you can view the Spring Broadcast video on the parking lot...