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Illustration by Kong Thao

Since when is parking a game of bumper cars?

Dents, scratches and angry students – those are products of Fresno State’s parking lots.

Lately, students have taken to Facebook to air their grievances over their experiences in the parking lots. The Fresno State Book Trade and Advice Facebook page is teeming with posts from students who say the bumper-car style of movement in the Fresno State parking lots has gone too far.

“I know some students at [Fresno State] are bad drivers, but this is just a whole new level,” wrote Xiong Tsimnuj Peter, a kinesiology major, in a Facebook post on Oct. 4.
He posted two photos of his blue car parked near the Student Recreation Center east of campus with a scrape – more than a foot long – near the driver side rear tire. Tsimnuj Peter claimed there was enough space to avoid having another car hit his.

“I’m just dumbfounded,” he said.

Fresno State Police Sgt. Terry Schneider said, on average, there are about two incident reports per day about cars being hit in the parking lots. He said students whose cars are hit should make sure they are safe and the other vehicle passengers are secure.

Schneider said insurance information should be exchanged and a report to campus police should be made online. He said the insurance company will take over the claim by obtaining the police report.

The parking lots at Fresno State are monitored by cameras, Schneider said, and the footage can sometimes work as evidence of parking lot incidents. However, Schneider said information can be difficult to get from the footage. For example, if he sees a black Honda and a white Honda in a collision, it may be difficult to see the drivers and the license plates.

And if cars are damaged while parked, the cameras still might not pick up the footage that is crucial for identifying drivers and cars because of the different angles of the vehicles.
Car-to-car collisions are not always the cause of the damaged cars at Fresno State parking lots.

Schneider said bicyclists, vandals or passersby may sometimes be to blame.
Schneider offered a few tips, like parking farther away from school and in less dense areas. But, that could mean students would be walking a longer distance.

“Park correctly within the parking stall,” he said. If you park on the parking lines, or wedge yourself between cars, you have a higher chance of being hit by another car while it is being parked or when a person in the other car opens the door, he said.

Finally, Schneider said students should check their car’s surroundings.

Sarah McGibbon, an animal sciences major, said she thinks she hasn’t been hit because her car is higher than most.

“If it [weren’t] for me being higher up and able to see over most parked cars, as well as being overly cautious when driving through our parking lot, I would have been in an accident,” McGibbon said.

When it comes to accidents in the lots, McGibbon blames student drivers who might drive too fast, run stop signs and fail to look when pulling in or backing out of stalls.

One time, McGibbon said, “I was getting ready to turn into a parking aisle and [the driver] came out of the parking aisle, didn’t look, didn’t see me, and cut the corner so close that I had to hit my brakes to avoid him hitting me.”

The tiny white cars driven by campus police or traffic officers are not unfamiliar to traffic incidents on campus, too. McGibbon recalls many times where golf carts nearly caused an accident.

“I also almost had a campus police [or] traffic officer almost hit me in his golf cart,” she charged.

“He was flying down the road between [the] Ag Science and Ag Mechanics [buildings] and didn’t stop when I was crossing.”

Jennifer Hernandez, a psychology major, said she recently purchased a new car and when she got home one day, she noticed it had been hit. She said she would now be parking far from her usual spots on campus, farther from her classes.

“I don’t want to get hit again,” she said.

Might students experience parking lot incidents due to the rush to get to class? Edgar Baltazar, a journalism major, thinks so.

“My personal opinion on this is really just people in a rush to get to classes,” he said. “Always give yourself time to get to where you need to be.”