Trouble on Grapewood Drive

Police pull over students on popular morning shortcut

Kettle Run traffic has become a major issue for students in the past years leading to countless attendance issues.

But this year, students have also been getting into legal trouble prior to the bell.

Students are getting pulled over for a number of traffic violations on Grapewood Drive while trying to avoid the morning traffic build-up.

Recently, the Sheriff’s Office Traffic Enforcement Division has been monitoring Kettle Run traffic. Several students and parents have been pulled over for using Grapewood Drive, a residential street, as a way to cut down their time in the long line of cars on Academic Avenue.

The misconception in the matter, though, is that students are being pulled over merely for using the street as a shortcut.

“Students are not being pulled over for turning around on Grapewood,” Kettle Run’s resource officer Jeff Tindle said. “They are being pulled over for a variety of traffic violations, such as speeding, failing to stop at the red light, and illegal U-turns. Also, it is not only students who have been pulled over. There have been students, parents from both Kettle Run and Greenville, school staff, and also residents of the subdivision stopped for a variety of reasons.”

Junior Michael LeMar is one of the students who has been pulled over for using the Grapewood shortcut. “When I turned into Grapewood Drive, I made a legal U-turn at the next intersection,” LeMar said. “I proceeded towards the light, and I was then stopped by a police officer in an unmarked car who walked out in front of my car and put his hand out, signaling that he wanted me to stop. He approached my passenger side window and told me that ‘it is illegal to avoid a left turn.’

Being curious, I looked up whether or not this statement is true and found no evidence of its truth. I was not given a ticket, but this exchange was not without punishment; it caused me to be late to school. The presence of police have only prevented drivers from conducting illegal maneuvers on this street. I have used this street after the incident out of desperation, and there happened to be a cop parked on the side of the road. I followed all rules of the road, and was not bothered by the officer posted on the side of the road.”

LeMar proceeded to justify his reasoning for attempting to cut traffic.

“Since the light in front of Grapewood Drive turns green, regardless of whether or not there is a car in front of the light, this stops the primary flow of traffic,” Lemar said. “My logic was that it would be more efficient for some to utilize that time frame to access Academic Avenue opposed to no cars moving while everyone waits for the time frame to finish.”

Although Officer Tindle does not monitor the intersection, he maintains the responsibility to make sure that students know the rules.

“As I have told many student drivers: it is not illegal to turn around in someone’s driveway, as long as you do it safely,” Tindle said. “I will warn anyone, however, the residents of the Grapewood subdivision are very unhappy with people turning around in their driveways, and will immediately report anything illegal to myself or the traffic division of the Sheriff’s Office. Also, repeated complaints of a students’ driving behavior can lead to a suspension of one’s driving privilege to school, but that is up to school administration.”

As long as there is traffic outside of Kettle Run, students say they will try to find new ways to get to school on time. Drivers say the Grapewood issue stems from students needing to avoid the traffic, so until the traffic is resolved, it seems that issues similar to this will persist.

But until that happens, drivers need to be aware of the possible consequences of the infamous Grapewood Drive shortcut, and take into account that a police encounter could ultimately make them later than they would have originally been.