New driving laws lead to parking accidents

Chronicle Staff

Head of Security Kevin Giberson relives his days as a cop as he investigates an accident in Lower St. Michael’s parking lot Sept. 19, one of nine on-campus traffic accidents this year, trying to solve a case of hit-and-run whodunit.

The increase in accidents is a result of overcrowding in the parking lots. The new law prevents student drivers from carpooling if they have not had their license for a year and thus, has forced more students to drive to school.

Moments before, Giberson received a phone call telling him that a junior boy had discovered the entire back and right side of his car had been scratched while parked in the junior lot the previous day.

Giberson was assured by witnesses at the Didax house adjacent to the parking lot that an elderly woman who had parked to go to the church caused the damage to the car.

As it turns out, the woman’s car is parked right next to the car she hit, which Giberson figured out when he noticed a piece of the front bumper was missing. He found a piece of a front bumper the day before in the junior lot and it matches the car.

“The evidence speaks for itself,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer. You can’t dispute it.”

As Giberson takes photos of the damage, a woman in a black Hummer tries to pull into one of the spaces.

“See, this is some woman who’s going to try to park here,” Giberson says. “This just drives me crazy. A ‘HW Student Parking Only’ sign is being made right now, and I’m going to put it out in front.”

He asks if the church has notified people that this lot is only student parking, but the woman cuts him off.

“This is the first time I’ve heard that,” she says.

Within the next 20 minutes, two more drivers pull in to park for the church.

“I had a woman the other day I saw come in here and park, and she stuck out so far into the lane no one could get by,” Giberson says.

To add to this problem, much of the last-resort parking from last year has now been eliminated. Giberson said there will be no tolerance this year for student parking in the surrounding neighborhood, specifically on Halkirk Avenue.

“Too many kids were in the neighborhood last year,” Giberson said. “There was a woman who had to go to the doctor once and couldn’t leave because a student was blocking her.”

A red curb was painted this summer on a section of Coldwater just past the south gate, eliminating six spaces, for safety reasons, Giberson said.

Bus rates were lowered by half this year, which has increased student use by 40 percent, Giberson said. He believes this is the best solution to parking problems for juniors. The cost of a parking space doubled, from $299 to $599.

The high cost can be attributed to a much higher demand for parking spaces because many students cannot carpool anymore by law. The law states that teens who have held their driver’s license for less than one year cannot transport passengers younger than 20 (except family members) without having someone 25 or older in the front passenger seat of the vehicle.

Nineteen parking spaces have been added spaces on campus, Giberson said. Bebe Pichvai ’07 backs onto a ramp outside Hamilton to park, a space never used in the past. Earth was moved near Hamilton Gym this summer to create 12 more stacked parking spaces.

Of the nine accidents to date, two went unreported.

“If you don’t leave your info then it’s considered a hit-and-run misdemeanor,” Giberson said.

One other unsolved case involves Matt Graziano’s ’08 purple Mustang, a car now infamous among his friends for its accident-prone nature.

“I got hit three times within the first three days of school because of my parking space,” he said. “I had about $900 worth of damage done to the car, but now I got my space moved.”

In his old space in the junior lot, the back of his car stuck out into the lane just before a turn, making him vulnerable to getting hit by passing cars.

“I personally think most times our kids don’t know they did it, thinking about class, talking on the cell phone…I don’t really think it’s a case of character with our kids,” Giberson says turning back to survey the deep scratches on the back of the car that was hit yesterday. He points a finger at the car responsible. “But it’s just this person here, if it is…”

Giberson suddenly notices a parking tag lying on the floor of the passenger seat in the car.

“This is a kid! So it wasn’t an older woman. See, I have her name but she didn’t give me any vehicle information. I know who it is now,” he says as he taps his fingers on the windshield. The elderly woman theory is thrown out and Giberson admits the witness probably didn’t have a clear shot of who was in the car.

“I’ll pull her out of class have a nice talk with the young lady,” he says.

Case closed.