Counterpoint: Carlsbad needs Smart Start program

Shannon Casey, Lancer Express editor-in-chief

The idea of a parking lot drives Carlsbad students mad with desire.

Imagine not having to wake up at the crack of dawn to ensure a parking spot. Imagine rolling up to school and having somewhere to park, guaranteed. Imagine a CHS where parallel parking was a thing of the past.

Imagine a parking lot with hardly any cars in it?

While the new parking lot excites drivers at CHS, the requirements to park in the lot brings this excitement to a screeching halt.

The new parking lot will have 400 spaces, and after accounting for the staff, 300 will be available for student use. However, for students to be eligible to park in one of these spaces, both the student and their parent or guardian must attend a Smart Start class at the CAC.

According to the flier on School Loop, topics covered by a Smart Start class create “awareness of possible consequences, both financial and physical, of distracted or impaired driving, and provides applicable information about collision prevention.”

Many students do not see the point in this class, claiming the class teaches the same thing already learned through months of Drivers Education.

Unfortunately, many students only see one side—their side—and fail to consider the benefits of taking a course that greatly differs from Drivers Ed. While a two hour class deters most students, those who have already taken the course often regard it highly.

Who has taken it, though? The entire San Dieguito School District, actually. While their parking policies do not match ours exactly, the class is mandatory, and has been for the past year.

Students who took the class last year say it was very little like Drivers Ed. While Drivers Education brushes on the subject of the consequences of reckless and distracted driving, Smart Start focuses on the physical and emotional repercussions of collisions. And, let’s be frank, teenagers are not the best drivers.

The class will open the eyes of student drivers to the dangers of collisions, and should be mandated to all students who wish to drive themselves to school, not just those who want to utilize the new parking lot.

Administrators’ only concern by mandating the Smart Start course is safety. Considering that 66% of ALL fatal accidents occur with teenagers–despite the fact that teen drivers constitute only 4% of all the drivers in California–measures can always be taken to make teen driving safer.

In the San Dieguito District, students must take the class every year to renew their permit, which seems a bit excessive. Students should take the class only once to receive their permit and in their first year of driving for the most dramatic, informative effect.

CHS has never required a class like Smart Start—even with the old senior lot—but Carlsbad drivers have always had a reputation as sub-par drivers (for example, the “CHS Students Suck at Parking” on Facebook with 268 “likes” and counting). Basically, Smart Start can’t hurt, only help.

A lot of teenagers need a wake-up call, anyways. Driving recklessly or while distracted can have major consequences, a concept Smart Start makes very clear.

Past attendees of Smart Start felt strongly impacted by the considerably graphic images shown during the course. In addition to images, the class also features testimonies loved ones of fatal teenage crash victims.

Smart Start teaches very important information that students should learn regardless of whether they want to use the parking lot or not.

Smart Start would make CHS safer, and who would object to that?