Hit and Run Accidents On the Rise

By Svetlana Arutyunyan

Hit and run incidents reported to the University Police are on
the rise, leaving more students with a damaged car, larger bills
and no alternative but to park in the same lots the very next
day.

Of the 67 collisions reported in 2004, 24 incidents involved hit
and runs. By 2006, the total number of collisions rose to 77, with
reported hit and runs escalating to 31.

Sergeant Bruce Wilson, day watch patrol with the University
Police, said these numbers may not be reflective of the total
number of hit and run incidents on campus, but added it wasn’t
possible to tell the actual number of incidents.

“No doubt there are always victims of hit and run accidents that
choose not to report the incident,” said Wilson.

One of the victims is Jordan Warlick a third-year psychology
student, who despite returning numerous times to her car to find
chipping paint, black lines and scratches, has never filed a
report.

Even when Warlick’s friend returned to her car in Lot F to find
her side mirror lying broken next to it, a report was never
filed.

Warlick, who usually parks in Lot M because it is closer to her
classes, said she stays away from the lots near the soccer field
because she feels they are the least safe.

“Sometimes when I have night classes, I question if my car is
safe because [Lot M] is not very well lit,” said Warlick.

One of the ways to deter hit and runs, said Warlick, would be by
installing cameras in the lots and adding more lighting for
visibility.

Even if cameras don’t capture the individual responsible, merely
knowing that they are monitored will prevent individuals from
taking off if they hit someone’s car, said Warlick.

Wilson Ngo, a third-year marketing student, concurred that one
of the best solutions to hit and runs would be to add cameras in
parking lots. Ngo, who is a transfer student from Pasadena City
College, said he has found numerous scratches on his car since he
came to Cal Poly.

One time, he even found the bumper of his car was hit, but never
filed a report.

“I went to PCC for two years and my car [was never] damaged.
Here, it already has scratches,” said Ngo.

Ngo said he found the parking lots at PCC different from those
at Cal Poly in that he saw more bicycle patrol at his old campus,
as well as larger parking spaces.

Ngo, who parks his car in lot G, said he has no choice but to
park on campus. He installed an alarm in his car to protect it from
burglary after his friend’s stereo was stolen from a new car. But
he added he has no way to protect his car from hit and runs.

Sergeant Wilson was also unaware of any means to protect
students’ cars from hit and runs.

“Students should realize that collisions and accidents can and
will occur just about anywhere they park,” said Wilson. “I am
unaware of any device that would guarantee the absolute safety of
anyone’s vehicle, whether here, or in a commercial parking
garage.”

However students are taking any measures possible to not become
the next hit and run victim.

Timothy Wai, a sixth-year hotel and restaurant management
student, takes pictures on his cell phone of cars that are parked
too close to his.

He feels somewhat safe parking his car in Lot L because it is
reserved for faculty and staff, but said he would be worried to
leave his car in Lot M.

“Lot M is eerie because it’s next to a farm and isolated,” said
Wai, who said he hopes the lot gets patrolled more often.

Wai said he would be quite upset to return to his car to find it
damaged.

“I would be pissed off, screaming and yelling, looking around
the parking lot for other cars with scratches on them,” said
Wai.

Like Wai, Sarissa Gale, a third-year public relations student,
is worried that Lot M may at the least be safe to park one’s car
because it is far off and not patrolled much.

But she also added students take on a risk when they park
anywhere.

Gale said if students were more careful when they drove, hit and
runs could be prevented.

“I know it’s a ‘dog eat dog’ world out there because we’re all
trying to get the same places, but it doesn’t hurt to be courteous
once in a while,” said Gale.

In order to prevent hit and runs, Sergeant Wilson said “all
drivers of motor vehicles must drive with due regard for the safety
of persons and property.”

Wilson said victims of hit and runs must realize they assume
responsibility when they park on campus.

“Neither this department nor the University assumes any
liability for damage occurring to vehicles,” he said.

Svetlana Arutyunyan can be reached by e-mail at
asstnews@thepolypost.com or by phone at (909) 869-3747.

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