Reckless driving in campus garages frustrates students


Madeline Taliancich

Photo illustration

Emily Patrick and her roommate were walking through the Freret Street parking garage on Loyola’s main campus this spring when she heard the sound of a car approaching from the entrance. The theatre arts senior thought nothing of it, being in a parking garage, and kept walking toward the elevators. Seconds later, her roommate yanked her back by the arm, saving her from impact.

“I was a hair away from being on top of his car, on the hood of his car,” she said. “If (my roommate) had not pulled me back, that car would have hit me, I know that for certain.”

Patrick is just one of many students who has experienced close calls with reckless drivers in the parking garages on Loyola’s campus.

While these near misses are a part of many student pedestrian and student drivers’ daily experiences, some aren’t so lucky. There have been five hit-and-runs and 14 automobile incidents on Loyola’s main campus since January 2021, according to LUPD.

Loyola’s Chief of Police Todd Warren said hit-and-runs are very common. These incidents refer to hit-and-runs involving vehicles, not pedestrians, according to Warren, who said he doesn’t know of any involving a pedestrian on campus.

A cyclist bikes through the West Road garage on Loyola’s main campus on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Some students said they experience near misses with vehicles in the garages daily. (Madeline Taliancich)

Barbie LeRay, a music therapy freshman who was nearly a victim of an on-campus automobile incident a few weeks ago, said encountering speeding vehicles in on-campus garages is an everyday experience. LeRay said they were driving on the first floor of the West Road garage when another driver sped in and almost hit their car.

“If I didn’t swerve in time, she would have hit me,” LeRay said.

LeRay often sees people turning corners too quickly and not looking which almost results in car accidents.

“Why are you driving so fast in a parking lot?” they said. “I’ve never been in a car accident and I don’t want to experience that ever.”

History senior Jesse LeBoeuf said another problem is that visibility is bad in the parking garages.

“If you’re heading up, you can’t really see who’s coming down,” she said.

LeBoeuf said she and her friends talk about reckless driving in the garages practically everyday, especially the near misses and people “whipping around corners super fast.”

To prevent reckless driving in the parking garages, Warren said there are speed bumps, security mirrors, stop signs, and speed limit indicators, but that these safety measures only work if they’re obeyed.

“It is a problem—people’s disregard of the safety and the rules and the disrespect when they’re confronted about it,” he said.

Signage in both the Freret Street and West Road garages indicates that the speed limit is 5 mph and that this is radar enforced. However, Warren said it has been three years since LUPD has used a radar gun to enforce speed limits in the garages. When he came in as police chief in 2018, he said the gun was beyond repair.

Despite the safety measures in place, Patrick said people still speed well over the 5 mph limit.

“Those speed bumps are going to cause you to hit the roof, you’re going so fast,” she said. “These are not high ceilings, people.”

If speeding doesn’t stop, Warren said LUPD has discussed bringing back the use of the radar gun as well as the possibility of purchasing a radar sign that would let drivers know their speed in the moment. He said he would likely borrow a radar gun from another agency for next semester to combat the problem.

Warren said students can report reckless driving to Loyola’s parking office and LUPD’s emergency number. In the case of the latter, LUPD will dispatch an officer, gather a description of the car, and can write a ticket, report the incident to student conduct, or even revoke the driver’s privileges to park on campus.

“We will definitely be beefing our patrol up and try to get a handle on it,” Warren said.

Warren urged students to be aware of their driving in the garages, as they are fuller with more people back on campus this year. He hopes some drivers will correct the problems on their own.

LeBoeuf agreed that, with more students on campus, the parking garages are overcrowded, which may be heightening some of the problems.

“I hope Loyola can remind students to drive carefully,” LeRay said. “I want students to be more careful with that.”

Like LeRay, Patrick thinks students need to be more aware of their driving.

“Y’all, slow down please,” she said.