Congestion, carelessness cause collisions


Megan Rudacille

A student pulls out of their spot into a line of cars in West Lot after school. “Specifically in that parking lot, it gets super congested, and there’s too many cars trying to get out at once,” junior Grace Drost said. “It makes people panic sometimes.”

Megan Rudacille, Staff Writer

The squealing of tires, the crunch of steel, the yelps of disrupted drivers–while the intense action of high-speed car crashes draws traffic nationwide from film screens to news coverage, school parking lots produce similar scenes with unresolved causes and consequences. 

Senior Sofia Creeks was hit when backing into the band lot after school. A fellow student backed out from a nearby parking space simultaneously, colliding with Creeks’ car.

“It was obviously super crowded,” Creeks said. “He kept backing out onto me, so I honked maybe seven times. At the last second, I tried to go back into my parking spot, and then he crashed into me.”

The accelerating popularity of automobiles in America has posed car crashes as a major public safety concern. Amidst traffic casualties, minor collisions can remain unacknowledged. Specifically, more than 60,000 people are injured in car accidents in parking lots per year, according to Transline Inc. High school parking lots possess a distinct risk for such accidents due to the presence of inexperienced teenage drivers; according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teens crash at four times the rate of drivers over age 20. 

“I think that they made too many parking spots for students on campus, especially in the band lot,” Creeks said. “They put too many teenagers all together, and with everyone just getting their license, they all feel arrogant and cocky; they perceive themselves to be expert drivers.” 

Junior Grace Drost was parked in West Lot, located across Stringfellow Rd from the school, when a student reversing from an adjacent space turned their wheel too far, scratching the side of Drost’s car. The race to emerge from overcrowded lots at dismissal can distract student drivers from their surroundings. According to the NHTSA, 13% of accidents reported to the police in 2020 were caused by distracted driving. 

They put too many teenagers all together, and with everyone just getting their license, they all feel arrogant and cocky; they perceive themselves to be expert drivers.

— senior Sofia Creeks

Accounting for damages following an accident brings its own road bumps. The official response to accidents at school comes from local law enforcement rather than school administration; however, police reports are only required to be filed in cases involving injury or severe damage. Some students choose not to file insurance claims when vehicle damage is minor, while some are prevented from doing so when the offender remains unidentified. According to the Virginia DMV, 2.7% of car crashes in 2021 were such hit-and-run accidents. Senior Allison Baxter was hit by a fleeing driver one evening after school. 

“I was about to leave and someone backed out of their parking spot and backed into me. I pulled into another parking spot to get information, and then they drove away,” Baxter said. “People are in a rush, people want to get out, people want to leave and then if you have an accident, you don’t want to take responsibility for that.”

Students can put the brake on harmful habits and shift gears on their driving techniques to protect themselves and peers in the parking lot. The National Safety Council advises the use of signals, anticipation of other drivers’ actions and attentiveness when backing out as critical to preventing parking lot peril. 

“I feel safe driving in the parking lot,” Drost said. “You just have to learn to watch out for people and make sure you know everything that’s going on around you.”