No Back-Ins?

Robinson student challenges frustrating parking policy


Robinson’s parking policy prohibits students from backing into their spots. Earlier this year, senior Axle Wotowiec challenged the rule.

Last August, senior Axle Wotowiec received a written warning for backing into a parking spot in the front lot at Robinson. Confused, Wotowiec inquired about the reasoning behind the warning, only to be told that he violated a seemingly-inexistent Robinson parking policy. “I was taught by my parents, Robinson driver’s education teacher, and behind the wheel instructor to use back-in parking whenever possible because it’s safer,” he said.

Wotowiec then decided to create a petition to allow Robinson students to back into their parking spots in the morning. The petition secured Wotowiec a few opportunities to make his case to the administration. Upon speaking to Mr. Clements, Ms. Philips, and other members of the staff, Wotowiec was shut down and the current policy was upheld. “I didn’t see any proof, but it [the policy] just seemed to be enforced because that’s the way it had always been done,” said Wotowiec. “I don’t feel like Robinson has listened to me.” It’s time for that to change. 

The Robinson website states nothing regarding whether or not students are required to park facing inwards, and a trip around the parking lot will indicate nothing else in support of the administration’s position. With a lack of signage and communication of this rule, why is the school allowed to continue enforcing it? Why does it care? Since when has the enforcement of a rule to prove a point been worth outweighing the overall safety of students in their cars or walking into school?

To me, Wotowiec’s case makes a lot of sense. Why force students to all back out of a spot, combating bad visibility and the rush to get home quickly, when they can be allowed to back into a spot in the morning, when students are all parking at different times? With staggered arrival times during the rush before school, the extra ten seconds that it takes to back into a spot will likely be rendered insignificant. 

In simple terms, pulling forwards out of a parking spot is just safer than the alternative of backing out. Sources across the internet, ranging from AAA to the Huffington Post, all agree that the additional visibility awarded to the driver when pulling out of a spot make the benefits of backing in definitely worth the cost of its slower approach. 

With opposing traffic a constant hazard in the crowded Robinson parking lots, being able to see clearly through the front windshield will undoubtedly prove to be effective towards limiting accidents. With the current policy of backing out of a spot, students are forced to constantly be looking backwards as they enter pedestrian traffic, often in cars without rear-viewing cameras. 

Administrator Daniel Clements spoke about why Robinson does not allow back-in parking. “We [Robinson administration] don’t allow students to back into parking spots for safety concerns. [The students’] safety is our number one priority.” However, nearby schools such as Lake Braddock and West Springfield allow back-in parking and experience little trouble, with West Springfield only experiencing a minimal five to 10 accidents on campus every year.

While I certainly understand and respect the concerns held by Mr. Clements and the rest of our administration, I see no harm in trying out a new policy for change, even for a short trial period. If other, neighboring high schools can manage to make their policies (which allow back-in parking) work, then I see no reason why Robinson can not and should not do the same. With this in mind, I encourage the Robinson administration to create a new policy and weigh its outcomes before decisively forcing students into one method of parking.