Speeding on campus

By Sarah Heaton, Contributor

Car accidents are the number one leading cause of death among college students, according to a 2013 study by the The National Center for Biotechnology Information. The deafening part of this statistic is that most of these accidents are preventable.

Mason is often labeled a “commuter” school, which really is not far from the truth since 75% of the student population does not live on campus. This makes for a campus with high foot traffic and high vehicle traffic. Mason’s location at the epicenter of Northern Virginia, which was ranked the second worst in the nation for traffic congestion, just behind Los Angeles, does not help.

A few days ago, I was driving through campus when I saw a pedestrian and stopped for them to cross. There was a car coming from West Campus drive that was directly behind me and apparently did not understand why I stopped. They continued to drive around me and sped across the raised crosswalk— just barely missing the pedestrian who was crossing.

I almost witnessed someone get struck by a car right in front of me. Then, just two days later, I had another alarming driving experience.

Before I tell you what happened, let me preface with this: although I am not an expert when it comes to cars, I can say I have a fair appreciation for the hard work and amount of time people spend modifying and upgrading their cars. I do basic maintenance work on my cars and my friend’s cars. I used to admire the decked out cars and cheer on the racers as they sped down the strip at Old Dominion Speedway.  

Never in my life did I think I would find myself on West Campus drive wondering if I was on the raceway  at Old Dominion Speedway. A tiny red car sped around the  corner behind me. I heard a loud screech and saw smoke just before I cleared the speed bump in front of me. I turned just in time to see the red car spinning out right behind me.

At first I felt angry. It was noon on a public road where students cross to get to class. Someone could have been injured.

Then I felt scared, were they challenging me?

I never caught up to the car to ask the driver why he felt the need to turn West Campus drive into this own private drag strip.

I understand that commuting can be boring, but West Campus drive is not the place to test out the doughnut you pulled off in the Wal-Mart parking lot last week. There is no justification for reckless driving when you are putting yourself and others at risk. Also, it’s illegal— There are serious ramifications for those who choose to drive recklessly.

Driving recklessly can be defined as a driver who:

  • Fails to yield to emergency vehicles
  • Fails to signal
  • Weaves in and out of traffic
  • Passes a vehicle on a curve
  • Passes a stopped school bus
  • Drives with faulty brakes
  • Races

Patriots, we have all had traumatic experiences driving on campus. We’ve seen everything from distracted driving, to speeding, to drivers deliberately ignoring pedestrians, and now my experience has been extended to witnessing people spin out on West Campus drive.

We need to be better drivers. We have to slow down, wait for pedestrians, and stop being selfish. We are all Patriots and we all want the best for our community. Let’s take a stand against reckless driving on our campus. It starts with us.

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