Viewpoint: Stop and smell the smoking asphalt

Slow down there, partner!

To say these words to a NASCAR racer would seem a tad inappropriate, but to say these same words to drivers in the parking garages would be too tame.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, I decided to drive to work. The Dutton Avenue Parking Garage seemed like a good choice to park in. It was close and it would keep my car out of the weather in case it rained. I entered the parking garage happily.

Then my journey to find a parking space turned into a nightmare.

I had to circle around to the next level and another car was coming directly at me. I hit my brakes and braced myself. The other car’s tires screeched on the pavement as it halted suddenly.

I stayed put while that car passed and kept thinking to myself, “That was a close one.” The next near-death experience happened on my very next turn. After the first almost-accident, I stopped for a good 30 seconds before turning into the next lane.

Almost immediately, a SUV came around the corner and, instead of braking as I did, swerved and somehow squeezed between my car and a column.

The nightmare progressively got worse as I had to search higher in the deck to find a spot to park. The closer it got to the beginning of class time, the scene went almost catastrophic as I saw cars zooming by at about 20 to 30 miles an hour in the deck.

The moral of this story should be obvious: slow down. Driving through the parking garage so fast that your tires squeal as you round the corners does not make sense. Driving fast can be exciting. However, if it puts your life, my life, other people’s lives, a ton of cars and your own car at risk, then it does not do to make excuses.

I understand being in a rush to get to class. I understand wanting to get the best parking spot. These are still not reasons to speed and endanger lives. There is not one reason I can think of that would allow anyone to drive so recklessly in the parking garage.

Here are a few simple steps that every driver should follow in the parking garage.

First of all, stop at the designated stop signs. They are there to help the flow of traffic in the garage.

Secondly, don’t go above 15 miles per hour. Even that speed could be a little too fast. If you have to use your anti-lock brakes before turning a corner, you’re probably going too fast. If your tires spin when you accelerate, you’re probably going too fast. If the deck vibrates so much it feels like an earthquake when you drive, then you’re probably actually experiencing an earthquake. However, if it’s just an unusual vibration and swaying, then you’re going too fast.

Before turning any corner in the garage, slow down and look both ways before completing the turn. I would have wrecked my car numerous times had I not slowed down.

I’m appealing to these fast drivers in the hopes of preventing an accident from occurring.

Take it slow. Being late to class is worth it if you don’t wreck.

Linda Wilkins is a sophomore journalism major from Tyrone, Ga. She is the city editor for the Lariat.