Students, parents, faculty and law enforcement officers gathered for a Niles West Parent Advisory Council (NWPAC) presentation on ‘Our Role in Building a Safe Community.’ U.S. Army veteran, member of the Active Transportation Alliance and proud Niles West Parent, Ramon Prieto, lead an interactive presentation and panel discussion on the importance of commuter safety. The discussion-based presentation took place on Wednesday, Jan. 16.
The dangers of reckless drivers who face a magnitude of distractions, such as cellular devices, are no secret to the D219 community. Even in the West student parking lot, which is filled with new drivers, the rules of the road are often neglected by both drivers and pedestrians. In his presentation, Prieto offered a magnitude of statistics ranging from inequality in regards to access to transportation to the consequences automobiles have on health. With the hopes of raising awareness of the hazards of traveling and a deeper understanding of the dependence on automobiles, Prieto emphasized the need to come together as a community.
“Law enforcement is overwhelmed and need our help. That’s why I wish there were even more people in the audience; they can’t do it all,” Prieto said.
Among audience members was social studies teacher and Teachers’ Union Executive Board member Daniel Kosiba.
“I participate so I can learn what’s going on in our community and relay it back to our teachers and faculty,” Kosiba said.
Despite the numerous Illinois laws implemented to ensure driver and pedestrian safety, many young adolescents and adults find themselves in dangerous situations due to a lack of responsibility. This unfortunate display of adherence to the law, although also demonstrated by adults, is a particular concern for young students. After the school day has ended and the student parking lot is hectic, inexperienced drivers will often blow past stop signs and disregard the safety of others in order to get home quickly. Pedestrians are not innocent either as they jaywalk or cross the street with their eyes glued to their phones and their headphones blasting music in their ears. Such reckless behavior strikes fear in parents such as Prieto, who emphasized that with obtaining the privilege of driving must come the understanding of all its responsibilities as well.
Also present was Niles West alum and running candidate for D219’s student board Nashra Mohammed who recognized the need to inform and teach new drivers with the goal of achieving a safer community.
“I think it’s really important to stay connected and I found this topic particularly interesting because I am a young driver and we need more young people to be reminded of these responsibilities,” Mohammed said.
There are always other safer modes of transportation. Prieto explained the health benefits of walking or biking, or even taking the bus or train to help reduce the harmful effects on the environment. Be sure to take a moment to take responsibility for building a safer community.