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Dalhart High School hot spot for motor vehicle accidents

Posted by: tdt -

By Robin Scott

    Three young girls in a passenger vehicle and one young girl in an SUV collided in the parking lot at Dalhart High School on Friday, April 17th.  The accident occurred at 8:25 a.m., just after the start of the school day, and marks the 10th motor vehicle accident in the school’s parking lot since opening last August.  The severity of the accidents ranged from fender-bender to full-out collision, sending drivers to the hospital.

    Sgt. David Conner with the Dalhart Police Department responded to the scene of last Friday’s accident.  He discovered that the driver of the passenger car was in the third tri-semester of pregnancy.  She was transported to CMH for care.  The driver of the SUV was injured when the driver’s side airbag deployed and scrapedsome of the skin from her hands and arms.  She was taken to her local doctor  by her parents and treated for her injuries.  Both vehicles suffered extensive damage.

    When motor vehicle accidents occur on private property within city limits, officers with the Dalhart Police Department respond, but full accident reports are not completed.    Rather, officers provide the parties with a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Driver’s Crash Report, known as a “blue sheet.”  Generally, citations are not issued for traffic accidents caused on private property.

    The City of Dalhart has two hotspots for motor vehicle accidents that occur on private property.  One is the parking lot located at the United Supermarket and the second is the parking lot of Dalhart High School.  Due to the numerous 911 calls since the school opened requesting assistance from police, the policy has been changed. According to Dalhart Chief of Police Tom Sanford, beginning April 17th, all accidents occurring at the high school will be reported on a City of Dalhart Police Department Accident Report, and any party at fault will receive a citation.

    Both drivers in Friday’s accident were cited for failure to maintain speed.  Dalhart Independent School District Superintendent David Foote stated Monday that the young drivers at the school are driving too fast.  David Steele, Dalhart High School Principal added, “We have one entrance and one exit into the parking lot, and the kids are just driving too fast.  Speed and negligence are the two factors and maybe more so negligence than speed because the kids are either backing into other vehicles or when parking they are turning into a space and hitting another vehicle.”  Both Mr. Foote and Mr. Steele urge parents of young drivers to be mindful of the 5 mile per hour speed limit in the parking lot, to be extremely cautious when parking and backing up and just pay attention.  Talking with friends or using a cell phone during the few minutes necessary to get in and out of the parking lot is not prudent.

    According to CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) a website dedicated to children’s issues including driver safety, “Teen driver crashes are the leading cause of death for our nation’s youth. The overwhelming majority of these crashes are caused by inexperience or distractions, not ‘thrill-seeking’ or deliberate risk-taking.”  Although speed seems to be a definite problem in the high school’s parking lot, distraction and inexperience are also key.  Parents are encouraged to remind their children drivers that getting into an accident in a parking lot is much more common than one might think.  Taking a moment to make certain that a driver is not distracted by friends, the radio, CD player or cell phone, keep speed at the posted limit and using caution when parking and backing up may help reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents at the high school.

    For more information on young driver safety visit and