PARKING LOT SAFETY: DOs and DON’Ts
Perhaps you ran to the store for a gallon of milk while your daughter was at violin lessons. Maybe you made a quick run before work for the office donuts. Whatever our reasons, most of us are in a hurry when we go to the grocery store, the mall, or pretty much any parking lot we are in. However, no matter how much we don’t want to be there for longer than we absolutely need to be, we do need to follow some simple dos and don’ts in order to not be involved in some kind of collision or catastrophe.
Don’t Fight Over a Prime Spot or Speed to Get One
You’re in a hurry for the next available prime parking spot, but remember that so are six of your fellow motorists. Although it seems counter-intuitive, slowing down and taking yourself out of this nasty mix can actually be beneficial in the long run. By reducing your own speed, you give yourself the necessary time to react to any unexpected situations in the parking lot, such as the two-year-old who ran away when his mother tried to grab his hand or the elderly gentleman who started backing out without checking his mirrors. The more time you have to react, the more likely you are to leave the parking lot with your car and your sanity in one piece. Next, by parking farther away from the store, you reduce the chances of your car being victimized while you are gone. However, remember to park only where you feel safe.
Do Remain Alert
No matter if you are going 65 mph down the highway or are going 5 mph in a parking lot, distractions are always a danger to you and those around you. Put your phone down, don’t adjust your radio and be alert. Watch for other motorist and pedestrians who may not be paying attention. If you are in a parking garage, pay special attention when going around corners and near elevators. Remember that busy and crowded parking lots are likely to have people backing out unexpectedly.
Do Be Kind and Considerate
When we are in a rush or we are somewhere we don’t necessarily want to be, it can be difficult to put the needs and wants of others first. However, in a busy parking lot or parking garage, doing so you can protect yourself. Cutting others some slack can make us more pleasant and safer while we are out and about. Be kind and stop for pedestrians who need to cross, especially if the weather is less than ideal. Give parents some extra time and room to load their children and their groceries in their vehicles. Don’t get too upset by the person who parked without leaving you much room to so much as open your door, let alone get in.
Don’t Forget to Look Around
Cars these days are equipped with several mirrors, and some even with rear-view cameras to make maneuvering your vehicle easier and safer. When backing out in a parking lot, but sure to use your eyes, all of your mirrors, and look at your rear view camera if you have one. Do not rely only on one source of vision. Remember to use your eyes and your better judgment when selecting a parking spot to begin with so that you, and those who have parked next to you, have enough room to get in and out.
Do Remain Calm
If you do find yourself in a parking lot accident, big or small, it is important to first remain calm. Accidents do happen and that is why we have car insurance. If need be, call the local law enforcement agency to respond. Make sure no one has serious injuries that need medical attention. Exchange important demographic and insurance information with the other parties involved. Take pictures, which is simple and easy to do in the current age of smartphones. You should also consider writing down your account of what happened. Then you will want to report the accident to your insurance company if you need to make a claim.
In a parking lot, it is easy to become distracted by other things, and even impatient with other drivers. However, slowing down and being more cognizant of what we are doing and our surroundings is the safest way to drive, no matter where we are.