Making the dreaded right turn in Gypsum
GYPSUM, Colorado – In their haste to leave Eagle Valley High School’s parking lot, students often broke a traffic law last school year, police say.The students turned left at the green light onto Highway 6 – which is legal. However, they failed to yield to drivers who were turning right onto Highway 6 from Oak Ridge (the road between the Conoco and Kum&Go).Heath Mosness, an Eagle County Sheriff’s Office deputy, said he had to step in last year.”I stopped tons of students,” he said. “Some of them got tickets because it got to the point where some of the people were complaining.”Police had received complaints from drivers who got stuck on Oak Ridge trying to make the right, as a stream of students turning left out of the high school failed to yield. The intersection can get jammed in the afternoons during the school year, as drivers leaving the two gas stations, post office or Columbine Market on Oak Ridge encounter a backlog of students trying to exit Eagle Valley High School, drivers say. This year, the addition of the Kum&Go gas station could add to the traffic, drivers say.With school scheduled to start Aug. 30, Mosness said he hopes to avoid giving out more tickets this year.”It’s more about education because sooner or later, we’re going to have an accident there and I’d obviously like to avoid that,” he said.Gypsum resident Daniel Valdez said he’s been stuck trying to make the right after shopping at Columbine Market.There were a few times last year when he got delayed because students failed to yield.”They just go on a whim,” he said. “They look like they’re always racing, trying to beat the light.”Valdez tries to stay away from the whole area during the afternoons.”I try to avoid it because it’s too ridiculous how these kids fly out of that parking lot,” he said.Gypsum resident Sylvain Cote said he’s been stuck at the light, but only for about 20 seconds. He said the high school students fail to yield but he chalks it up to youthful inexperience.”They just go – whooom! – but I was 16 once. I remember what it is. Most people don’t remember what it is to be young,” Cote said.Eagle Valley High School Senior Jessica Dondero said she has seen fellow students disregard the traffic laws at the light.However, she makes a point of letting the drivers on Oak Ridge make their right turns.”I’ve seen kids get pulled over before so I try to avoid that,” she said. “I know how it feels for the people who get stuck turning right. It sucks, so I try to let them go as much as I can.”Students say the parking lot gets jammed at the end of the day, which might help to explain why they fail to yield.Senior Ashley Winsor added that some students might be rushing to sports practices so they won’t get in trouble for being late.Mosness said drivers might not be ignoring the law. Inexperienced teens simply might be unaware of it. He’s hoping to educate students about the law so he won’t have to dole out more tickets this year. The tickets cost $63 and three points on students’ licenses, he said.Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.