Small signs are more trouble than they’re worth

Driving onto campus towards the end of last semester, I noticed many cute little stop signs  near Sparrowk Hall on Thomas Drive, which is the road to the Upper McInnis parking lot. There were also a couple of stop sign-shaped symbols on the ground in both the Upper and Lower McInnis parking lots.

“Thomas Drive is a parking lot,” Jim Magee, Eastern’s Director of Security, said. “People just fly down the road, and there have continually been minor accidents.”

These accidents prompted security to begin to take measures to make the campus safer for both drivers and pedestrians.

Although I found it odd that the signs were put into place during the semester and not over winter break, I heeded them anyway.

However, I almost got into several accidents in the process. The stop signs located at the road exiting Sparrowk Hall, my dorm, affected me the most. While I consider the stop signs a potential improvement, their small size makes them almost invisible. When the signs were first put in, I actually missed a few of them because they were difficult to see.

Magee explained that the size of the signs was meant to make people slow down while still allowing them to see both the beauty of campus and any oncoming traffic. While I certainly enjoy Eastern’s beautiful campus, I would much prefer visible stop signs and speed limit signs. If overlooked, small signs can cause careless driving.

On a few occasions, I have almost been hit pulling out of the exit onto Thomas Drive because traffic coming from either side had either not seen or ignored the signs and kept going. Twice, the traffic was an Eastern security vehicle. Unfortunately, the small size of the signs causes them to be easily overlooked, raising the risk of potential accidents.

So what is the point of having stop signs if everyone is going to ignore them? I say that if the stop signs and speed limit signs are going to be observed, they must be bigger and enforced.

It is more dangerous to stop at a sign and wonder if the other traffic will stop and follow the rules of the road than it is to not have signs at all. At least if there weren’t signs, drivers would have no expectation that anyone would stop for them.

An improvement that has worked, however, has been the mandatory assignment of the four spaces in the Lower McInnis parking by the path to Sparrowk Hall as “compact car” spaces. These spaces were designated as spots for small cars in order to increase the visibility of students coming from the path. However, I have still seen SUVs parked there, especially in the evening when it’s oftentimes too dark to see people walking across the road.

It all comes down to enforcement of the rules. If action isn’t taken against people who ignore the stop signs and put the safety of others in danger, greater accidents may come from the “preventative measures” that have been taken thus far.

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