Morning Drop-Off Debate: Carpool Lane or Side of the Road?
The rules of carpool exist for a reason. Parents and school officials are concerned about the dangers of dropping students off outside of the carpool lane. Everyone seems to agree that dropping off on US 64 is a bad idea, but there are mixed thoughts on using Laura Duncan Road as a drop-off location.
As Ms. Hofman, our principal, writes in the school newsletter, PEAK News!, “‘Safety is our number 1 priority!’”
A US 64 drop off, instead of the carpool lane, causes several problems. Because US 64 is a highway, there are several lanes and people are driving in both directions as well as turning at the intersection. Also, cars could be traveling at a speed of 55 MPH or higher.
Using US 64 as a drop-off location results in students trying to cross the road and cars trying to re-enter traffic from pulling over to let students out. There is too much at stake if a car cannot stop, or students only think they can make it across the highway, or there is no way to safely merge back into traffic.
On just the second day of school, parents took to social media to express their frustration and concerns. Timothy O’Hara took a photograph of the traffic on US 64 and posted, “I can’t believe this needs to be said, but apparently it does. The right turn lane from US64 to Laura Duncan is NOT an appropriate place to drop off your students!”
In one comment to Mr. O’Hara’s post, Kassandra Montegna Lyles stated, “So, so many did this last year. Carpool was a straight up circus last year. I’m honestly surprised no one got hurt.”
When it comes to Laura Duncan Road as a drop-off location, however, there are some differing views. Some feel it, too, is dangerous to students who might need to cross the street or actually cross the carpool line to enter the school while others are not as concerned and feel it is an adequate alternative to the slow carpool line.
As Ms. Hofman notes in the PEAK News! newsletter, “Do not drop off students in the parking lot, on Lara Duncan, or anywhere beside[s] the front of the building.”
One concerned family member of a student, Kay Campbell, expressed her concerns with both drop-off locations when she stated, “I think it is extremely dangerous. US 64 is a highway and Laura Duncan is a major street in Apex so it is heavily used. A stopped car in this area can be easily hit, injuring occupants of both vehicles. More importantly the student that is dropped off is now on foot and can be hit by heavy traffic along both roads. We do not need any fatalities or serious injuries just trying to save a few minutes of time.”
On the other hand, some feel that using Laura Duncan Road as a drop-off spot helps to eliminate the back up on US 64 and is at least a better option that dropping off on US 64 when trying to avoid the carpool lane.
Kelly Forsht Queen initially commented to Mr. O’Hara’s post, “It’s not helping they’ve completely blocked one whole right lane on Laura Duncan. It’s backed up under the railroad bridge on 64 now!” In further explanation, however, Ms. Queen noted that she believes “it’s more dangerous to back cars up on 64 than to drop off kids on Laura Duncan.”
Neither US 64 nor Laura Duncan Road are approved as school drop-off locations, according to the rules of Apex High carpool, because of the safety issues surrounding students not being dropped off directly in front of the school building. As a result, the message students receive when parents use these alternate drop-off locations is also important.
In her social media comment, Anissa Jimenez Ortiz stated, “It’s amazing to me how many parents make poor driving decisions in the car with their children as witnesses. The same kids that will be driving very soon. How do we expect our kids to make good decisions while driving if we make them [poor decisions] right in front of them.”
Everyone has the same goal: students arriving to school safely. This debate over how best to make that happen in a short amount of time (and in the small area allowed for carpool and drop off every weekday morning) is a debate that is not new and is likely to continue for some time.