By Josh Galvin ’13 & Brett A. Mejia ’13
There are few things scarier to a student driver than an accident.
Lives are endangered, insurance rates soar and a permanent black mark appears on a newly acquired license.
Yet according to Brophy Security Director Mr. John Buchanan, Brophy student drivers continue to impress him.
“Our students do very well in their driving; they’re very courteous,” Mr. Buchanan said.
Before becoming the head of campus security, Mr. Buchanan worked as a Phoenix police officer for 32 years, 10 of which were as an accident investigator at the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy.
“There’s always a few (students) that we get reports on that cut through private property and block traffic and drive in a discourteous way, but as for the overall picture: very courteous drivers,” Mr. Buchanan said.
Phoenix Police statistics echo Mr. Buchanan’s belief.
Public records from the Safety & Neighborhood Traffic Section of the Phoenix Street Transportation Department show that there have been 1,493 accidents at the12 major intersections within one mile of Brophy from 2006 to 2010. Only five of these have been fatal.
According to the Insurance Institute for High Safety, 33,808 people died in motor vehicle collisions in 2009, the most recent statistics available.
The IIHS reported of those fatalities, 3,466 were teens between 13 and 19. Two out of three teenagers killed in a vehicle collision in 2009 were male.
The intersection with the most the collisions was 7th Street and Indian School Road, with an average of 44 collisions per year.
The intersection with the least amount of collisions was Central Avenue and Missouri Avenue, with an average of nine collisions per year.
This includes drivers of all ages, however, not just students.
The crash rate for drivers 16-19 years old is four times the risk for older drivers, according to an IIHS study. The crash rate per mile driven for 16-year-olds is twice as high as it is for 18-19 year olds.
Considering that Brophy handed out 460 parking permits this year, the number of accidents that occur around the campus area is relatively low.
“We do have a few (incidents) each year where people will be backing out, and they’ll turn too sharply and bump the car next to them,” Mr. Buchanan said. “But there’s not a lot of those, it’s probably less than five each year. Of the 460 drivers there’s bound to be an accident.”
Students’ perspective on driving
Despite what some might advise, defensive driving does not always eliminate the possibility of a collision, as Jacob Flick ’13 can attest.
“I was at 63rd Avenue and Thunderbird,” Flick said. “I had a green arrow and was making my turn. When I was halfway through the intersection, a lady saw the green and thought, ‘Green, I’m going to go.’”
The other driver then t-boned him, totaling his car.
“Now I look around more when I’m driving, because you never know when someone’s speeding out of total view of your surroundings,” Flick said. “Even if you’re not at fault, if you don’t look hard enough you’ll get hurt.”
One student, Jerry Aguilera ’13, learned this firsthand after hitting the car in front of him on 43rd Avenue and Indian School Road.
“I was changing the radio station and didn’t see the car in front of me,” Aguilera said.
According to Mr. Buchanan, Aguilera’s situation is one he’s seen many times, both at Brophy and on the force.
“Inattention is the most prevalent cause, and that’s where you get your rear end collisions followed by speeding and then left turners,” Mr. Buchanan said.
Scotty Koch ’13 said he has noticed that there are a lot of distractions that occur in the school parking lot.
“(Students are) speeding through the Brophy parking lot, playing loud music and hanging out the window,” Koch said.
He has also witnessed teen drivers texting and wearing ear buds while driving.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, a teen must be 16-years-old and to have had a permit for six months to obtain a driver’s license.
The driver must then carry the driver’s license for at least six months before they can have two or more passengers that are not siblings or parents in the car.
However, Mr. Buchanan said he would crack down even further.
“I would prohibit any passengers up to six months or a year,” Mr. Buchanan said.
He later added he would also restrict “talking on the phone, eating, drinking … anything that takes you away from concentrating.”
Editor’s Note: The Roundup obtained the records in this article through a records request with the City of Phoenix.