Student drivers struggle with safety in crowded parking lot


Carter Paine

At the beginning and end of the day, the BSM parking lot becomes a hazardous obstacle course for students.

If you missed the Monster Jam at the Metrodome on December 7, you can watch a version of the smash derby play during the next few snowy months in the BSM parking lot. As roads become icier and more students turn the hopeful age of sixteen, the BSM parking lot becomes riddled with accidents waiting to happen. Whether you’re a veteran when it comes to slickly parking in the Senior Lot, or you’re a newly-licensed driver who waits thirty minutes after school to avoid the terrifying traffic rush, caution is key when controlling a two-ton vehicle through an area full of rambling teenagers.

Twenty percent of all motor vehicle accidents in the United States happen in parking lots. In other words, close quarters are not ideal for reacting to sudden appearances on the road. Jon Pachkofsky, BSM Security Coordinator, has seen several accidents occur in the eight total years he has worked at BSM. “Remember you’re in a school zone,” Pachkofsky said. Driving slowly is best, especially in these rough conditions. It is impossible to know how other students will drive, so you have to be able to control your own vehicle.

A disadvantage to BSM’s situation makes it even more prone to the occurrence of fender-benders: the bulk of cars come and go within a short period of time at the beginning and end of the school day. During the after-school rush almost all students, eager to drive as far away from school as possible, sprint to their cars in hopes of being the first to cut off the endless lines of Junior High parents. Maggie Houtz, a Junior, is somewhat practiced at this maneuver. “My strategy is you get a pull through spot so you don’t have to back out. I hate backing out” said Houtz.

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As twenty-five percent of all parking lot accidents happen while a driver is backing out, Houtz’s advice should be heeded by other drivers. Danny Tift, a Senior, has experienced the uncontrollable risks of backing up in the BSM parking lot. “This year, I was slowly backing up when some kid in an Audi floored it in reverse right behind me and hit me pretty hard” Tift said.

As you race 700 other students for the most coveted parking spot, consider the risk reduction strategies. Kate Herrmann, a Sophomore, is newly-licensed and gets to BSM ten to fifteen minutes before school begins. “I usually get a spot in the back or way off to the side” Herrmann said. Some dedicated students get to school early enough to basically have their own reserved spot, but for those of us who would rather sleep ten more minutes rather than get to school early, we will always struggle with this internal parking dilemma.

Stacy Gran, a Senior High Social Studies teacher, also sees the problems that drivers in the parking lot struggle with. “I think people are more worried about jockeying for a position than worrying about what’s the best use of the parking lot,” Gran said. This is the heart of BSM’s parking lot safety issue: students focused on their own want for a good spot put the rest of the parking lot in danger.

It’s best to use extreme caution in a parking lot, especially a school parking lot. Statistics show that the odds are against you. An accident is waiting to happen in your future. The numbers of new drivers in a high school parking lot mean that it is even more likely that a fender bender will someday ruin your clean record. So, practice defensive tactics like arriving early, leaving late, or parking in an out-of-the-way spot and your ride will remain dent-free.