Parking Lot Pandemonium: The Challenges of the LHS Parking Lot

The LHS parking lot is a center for heavy traffic and potential accidents. At the end of the school day when the bell rings, there is a mass exodus of students who are eager to get to their cars and leave as fast as possible. Likewise, parents want to pick up their kids and exit the parking lot in a safe and effective manner. The current system could stand to be improved in order to avoid accidents.

There are 297 available student parking spaces during school hours, Monday through Friday. Three hundred staff share the staff parking lot from the early morning until the late evening, as well as construction workers, whose attendance at LHS has fluctuated as the school has undergone several projects. Students and staff are not permitted to use each other’s lots, with the exception of after-school hours. 

“This alleviates congestion, and gives both groups their own space,” explained Mr. Uliks, the LHS Director of Campus Safety. Students and staff must also use the back gate alongside the tennis courts to enter the campus past 8 a.m so they are not caught up in traffic with parents using the main entrance. If a student attends an after school club or practice they can park near the pool entrance after 3:25 or on weekends.

Security directs traffic to maintain an orderly environment. (Ashley Sanchez)

“The school’s primary objective is safety,” stated Mr. Uliks. Both before and after school there are five security supervisors who help individuals enter and exit the lot. 

One of the main parking lot dilemmas occurs when parents line up in the parking lanes, blocking student parking spaces, thus preventing students from exiting the lot. This leads to the pickup lane becoming congested and disorderly. The parking lot security supervisors allow the parents to pull into and wait in the lot, rather than causing a backup on Road 176. Waiting for the backup to clear is very frustrating for students attempting to leave the school.

Student Experience

Senior Katie Meyer uses a carpool spot, the numbered spaces closest to the school. The purpose of the student carpool spots is to reduce the number of cars using the parking lot by having students ride with each other to and from school. Though it would seem that there would be less traffic due to the fewer amount of cars occupying the parking lot, the number of parents picking up and dropping off their kids defeats the purpose entirely.

“I would say carpool spots help other people, but don’t help the carpoolers,” Meyer said. Individuals who park in normal parking spots are farther away from school but are also free from some of the traffic congestion where the parents line up. Oftentimes it takes so long for everyone to safely exit the parking lot, it’s better to wait out the rush.

“Usually I sit in the library or hang out in the school for 10 minutes to let the parking lot clear out,” Meyer said. She added that the perfect time to drive in and out of the parking lot before the lot becomes chaotic is before 8:30 a.m and 10-20 minutes after 3:25 p.m.

Driving stress can be often attributed to fear of vehicle collisions. Although everyone hopes they will never be in this situation, some might not always be so fortunate. Senior Charlotte Bossler’s car was totaled while parked in a regular parking space, during the morning rush, as students are hurried to park and arrive to class on time. Bossler, who is a member of the Illinois student organization Traffic Safety Board, understands the dangers of bad driving habits developed at a young age. The Illinois Traffic Safety Board is focused on driver mental health and traffic safety.

“Many surrounding counties have also experienced problems with irresponsible teen driving,” Bossler said. “It’s important that we instill good habits in teen drivers.” Bossler also thinks that the LHS parking lot traffic situation needs a solution.

“As LHS continues to expand their student populus, they need to provide better parking,” Bossler stated.

Senior Allison Bolas struggles with the stress of leaving the parking lot at 3:25 every day. Tensions between drivers arise when students are blocked into their spots by parents. Fortunately, according to Bolas, the majority of the students handle the chaotic traffic with level heads.

“Other students are usually pretty nice,” Bolas said. “We do our best to communicate with each other while driving.” Even when there is a conflict between drivers, the security supervisors involve themselves when necessary to de-escalate any situation.

However, driver conflicts and car accidents are not the only concerns. Vehicle-student collisions are another serious issue. 

Even students walking from the Brainerd campus are at risk if drivers are not paying attention. The majority of sophomore and junior drivers park at Brainerd and walk to LHS from there. Pedestrians should always use crosswalks, monitored by security supervisors, to cross the street to avoid accidents.


Allison Bolas offered up the idea of separate parent pick-up times. LHS could establish a specific time for parents to come to pick up their students – possibly 10-20 minutes after students are released from school to alleviate the overload of traffic in the parking lot at 3:25 p.m. This would allow for students to safely exit the parking lot before the rush of parents.

Mr. Uliks explained how reducing parental driving would also reduce traffic stress in the lot.

 “Students should drive themselves if possible,” said Mr. Uliks. If students can’t drive themselves, taking the bus is another good option, since it reduces congestion and increases safety.

Regarding accidents in the parking lot, LHS is ready to assist. 

“It’s an accident, it’s a mistake, we understand, but do report to someone if you have been in or caused an accident,” said Mr. Uliks. If there’s an incident in the parking lot, it should be reported. As long as the school’s parking lot rules are being followed, students should feel safer when driving. 

“Use crosswalks, wear your seatbelt, don’t use your phone while driving, and pay attention,” added Mr. Uliks. Mr. Uliks mentioned that the best thing to keep in mind while driving in a crowded lot full of people is to always be courteous of others.

“Be extremely courteous, follow the rules, and most importantly, realize that the priority is to get everyone safely in and out of the lot.”