Traffic Safety at Westmont

By Amelie Arango 

Recently, I conducted a school-wide survey about traffic safety at Westmont. In light of recent events, I recognized that nothing was being done about the insanely dangerous habits of drivers, pedestrians, and bikers. As a student board member for the district, I decided to take on the challenge of finding ways to make the situation safer. The survey had 783 responses. Below are some of the results: 

Forms response chart. Question title: How do you get to/from Westmont?. Number of responses: 782 responses.
Forms response chart. Question title: Pedestrians and Bikers: Have you ever felt unsafe when travelling to/from school?. Number of responses: 592 responses.

In addition, a majority of the students reported that it takes them 10-20 minutes to get to school, as compared to a no-traffic time of 0-10 minutes. 

I also collected student feedback on their concerns with traffic safety. Below are some responses that were especially telling: 

  • “How fast cars go on Westmont Ave, and that a large portion of cars do not use turn signals.”
  • “There have been times where I have seen pedestrians or bikers almost get hit because a driver is not paying attention.”
  • “People that bike to school need to learn to respect the laws of driving cause they are always biking on the wrong side and not stopping at stop signs. If they are gonna bike to and from school then they have to follow the laws. And some of the students that walk to and from school literally walk on the biker lane and not on the sidewalk.”
  • “Sometimes people who bike to school don’t respect the biking lanes, stop signs, or don’t hold out their hands when turning and cars have to really react quickly to not cause an accident but what if the person driving the car didn’t pay attention and ran into the biker?”
  • One person even specifically mentioned certain drivers, saying, “People drive recklessly, typically the senior/junior boys, and that could be a safety concern in the future.” 

I noticed that a majority of those who commented were concerned about drivers not paying attention and bikers not following the rules of the road. 

  • One student suggested, “Seniors and juniors leave a few minutes earlier than the freshmen and sophomores. This will help the mass amount of people leaving at the same time.” 

Out of the other schools in the district, the issue of pedestrian safety when crossing the crosswalks is a Westmont-specific issue. The main crosswalks at all the other schools are protected by traffic lights, flashers, and other safety measures. Therefore, it is crucial that everyone works together as a community to ensure the safety of other students. 

For drivers, I suggest making a conscious effort to pay attention. I understand that everyone just wants to get home as soon as possible at the end of the day, however making sure that no student gets injured is more important. Drive slowly and always make eye contact with pedestrians and bikers wanting to cross. I also urge you to not speed through the left turn lanes and cut back in the traffic line. It is an incredibly unsafe and entitled move. 

For bikers, it is imperative to follow the rules of the road. Stop at stop signs and before crossing a crosswalk. In addition, always make eye contact with drivers before crossing so as to ensure that they see you. Make sure to use the bike lanes on the correct side of the road. 

For pedestrians, once again make sure to stop before crossing the crosswalks and make eye contact with the drivers on both sides of the road to make sure that they are paying attention to you. 

The issue of Westmont’s lack of traffic safety is a whole-community issue, and one that can only be solved if everyone works together to follow the rules and ensure that no one else gets hurt.