Another teenager recently died in a lunchtime car crash in Montgomery County [Metro, Oct. 19]. If school administrators and parents are truly interested in improving school safety, they will close student parking lots immediately.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently reported that during the school months of 1998, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, 924 teenagers aged 15 to 18 were killed in auto crashes. Most of these kids probably were driving to or from school.

Many colleges prohibit freshmen from having cars. Why is it so hard to prohibit high school kids from driving to school? The excuses are lame: parents too busy to drive the teenagers, teenagers who need cars to drive to work after school (to pay for their cars), the bus isn't cool.

I also note that last month, USA Today reported 19 fatal school shootings last year, down from 32 in 1992. While politicians continue to leverage these horrible events to carry on their gun-control rampage, the community shrugs off the problem of kids dying in cars.

It is hard to protect against the rare homicidal criminal (short of arming teachers), but we can easily bring about a huge school safety improvement with one simple action: Require kids to walk or ride the bus.

WAYNE McNINCH

Monrovia, Md.