Students and parents adjust to new morning traffic patterns

September 19, 2017 — by Emilie Zhou

The line of cars slowly inch forward through the crowded front parking lots as the clock ticks closer to the 8:15 a.m. tardy bell. Parents and students frantically make their way through the traffic, some cutting lines and driving into oncoming traffic to make it to class on time.

This has been the situation almost every school day as drivers adjust to the back parking lot being closed to dropoffs and new traffic patterns the administration has implemented this year.

According to assistant principal Brian Thompson, the school closed the back parking lot this year for student drop-off and pick-up and added a new route in an effort to improve the flow of traffic and ensure students’ safety.

With two drop-off areas, cars entering the front parking lot from Herriman Avenue are able to split after driving past the McAfee Center and can turn either right or left at the intersection before the entrance of the school.

By turning left, parents are able to drop off students in front of the gym, drive past the tennis courts and exit back onto Herriman. The new route added this year allows cars that turn right at the intersection to drop students off in front of the music building and near the side of the McAfee Center, drive through the west wing of the school and exit onto Saratoga Sunnyvale from the back parking lot, Thompson said.

Even so, many students say closing off the back parking lot has resulted in heavier traffic and unintended consequences in the front parking lot and nearby streets.

“It gets really backed up while you’re waiting on Herriman and just today I saw someone get really close to hitting a kid while they were turning into the school,” sophomore Nikita Pawar said. “There’s only one way to actually get into the school and everyone’s just waiting on Herriman to turn.”

With the heavier traffic, many drivers on these busy streets aren’t following the traffic rules, making it especially unsafe for those walking to school, Thompson said.

People in the front parking lots are also sometimes driving in the opposite lane, creating additional safety hazards. By trying to cut in line, drivers are increasing the chances of crashing head on into oncoming cars. Thompson maintained, however, many of these behaviors and violations aren’t new this year.

Pawar has observed that many students are also being dropped off at areas they’re not supposed to, such as Lexington, the street across the front of the school, and the side of Herriman. Some parents are even having their kids get out of cars in the middle of the road to avoid waiting in the parking lot traffic.

As a result, increased safety precautions have been added, including a new crosswalk near the back of the school and new traffic signs on Herriman.

According to Thompson, it’s ultimately the sheriff's department and the city traffic unit’s job to manage the traffic out on the streets outside of the parking lot.

“We give them a lot of information and feedback on what’s happening, but managing the city streets is their responsibility,” Thompson said.