By: Jerry Reynolds
October 13, 2014
Parking lots and garages come in all shapes and sizes, and while constantly being aware of your surroundings seems like an obvious rule of thumb, it’s often ignored in the hustle and bustle of daily errands.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 14 percent of all vehicle collisions that result in damage happen in parking lots. That was a surprisingly high number to me, and the reason for this article. Most of us don’t think of a parking lot as being dangerous, but they can indeed be.
Surely most of those accidents could have been avoided if they would have followed simple parking lot safety and etiquette.
So what are the rules for proper parking etiquette?
First, use your turn signal. It’s an extension of you.It communicates to others your desired intentions and helps reduce confusion. Many people are not in the habit of using blinkers in parking lots unless you are signaling another driver you are waiting on a particular parking space, but they should be used all the time.
Second, park correctly in vehicle spaces. Centering your vehicle in its parking space will provide room for the driver who parks in the adjacent space and reduce the chance of your vehicle being dinged or dented. Also, if you have a truck or large vehicle make sure you know the proper methods to maneuver it and park correctly.
Third, although its unlikely you’ll be pulled over by the police, there are laws regarding operating a motor vehicle in a public parking lot. Pay attention and observe posted speed limits, one-way directional arrows, stop and yield signs, handicapped spaces, and pedestrian crosswalks.
Fourth, watch for pedestrians, most importantly children. Back-overs are the leading cause of child non-traffic fatalities in the United States. As a parent, make sure your child remains with you at all times. Teach your children about the dangers of parking lots. Remind them that although they can see a vehicle, the driver may not be able to see them. As a driver, slow down and keep a careful eye out for children, especially as you back-out and maneuver through the parking lot. Please avoid looking at your cell phone in parking lots. A child can walk out in front of you in the blink of an eye.
Fifth, shopping carts and trash are a headache for every driver. If you choose to use a store cart, return it to its designated location. This will make it less likely the cart you were using will end-up denting someone else’s car.
Furthermore, keep your trash until you can properly dispose of it in a trash receptacle or at home.
One last thought, simply being courteous and respectful to other drivers prevents accidents and exchanged aggression. Make an effort to be a part of the solution rather than the parking lot problem and exercise some good etiquette when behind the wheel.