Parking lots are busy places with moving vehicles and pedestrians. Many problems can occur for both, such as bodily injury, vehicle damage, and thefts. Parking lot incidents happen all year and increase during busy holiday seasons or major events. It is important to be aware of what can happen and to take preventative measures.
It helps to understand the reasons that so many parking lot incidents occur so that you can watch for things to avoid.
- There is often poor parking lot maintenance. Some common problems are signage is not clear, parking areas are unclearly marked, and there is poor lighting. You need to pay attention to the condition of the lot when you are in it.
- Drivers can be distracted. While looking for a spot to park, drivers often overlook oncoming cars or pedestrians crossing their paths. Whether driving or walking, you should take a defensive approach watching for people who are not paying attention.
- Parking lots can be congested and jammed beyond acceptable capacity. This creates problems of poor visibility and spacing. When backing out, drivers encounter dangerous blind spots, which increase accidents.
- There are no traffic laws and this leads people to make their own rules, increasing reckless behavior. Although some parking lots have security, vehicles are a big target for thieves.
With this information in mind, here are tips for taking preventative action when parking.
- When entering any lot, be aware of the condition of the lot, poor lighting, poorly marked spots, and anything that could cause a problem or danger to you or your vehicle. If there are too many problems, leave and find a safer place to park. In short, choose your parking wisely.
- Drive defensively. When looking for a parking spot, be aware of vehicle traffic and pedestrians and drive slowly. It is too easy to hit someone or something because you are distracted or going too fast. Signal other drivers when possible - remember, people cannot read your mind.
- Avoid parking lot rage. Never fight for a parking spot with another aggressive driver because it’s not worth the aggravation and possible damage. People can be volatile and dangerous over trivial things so just avoid inciting an incident.
- Park your vehicle in an appropriate space for its size. You are asking for trouble and damage if you simply do not fit in the parking spot.
- Always secure your belongings and lock up your vehicle even if only intending to park for a few minutes. Put “everything” possible out of sight and if possible, do it before you enter the lot so thieves do not observe you locking up valuables in your trunk. Seeing a portable GPS, money lying loose in the car, or a laptop sitting on the back seat is simply an invitation to a car thief. Remember parking lot thieves can simply be someone out for a lark looking for money to buy a soft drink or someone looking for items to sell or pawn. Use common sense, plan ahead, and look over your car while locking up.
- If you purchase items while parked, avoid putting them in your vehicle until you are ready to leave. You never know who is tracking your movements. If you need to put heavy purchases in your vehicle, consider moving your car to another location.
- Don’t be easy prey because you cannot find your vehicle. When you leave, watch where you park and if necessary, write down the appropriate numbers. Another method is to use your cell phone to photograph where you are. If you are in a large parking facility and have Google Maps on your smart phone, you can “drop a pin” simply by opening the app and holding your finger down on your location when you park. Save the location and you can use GPS to get back to your car without getting lost.
- Avoid strangers, particularly those who ask you for a handout. Keep your keys in one hand and your cell in another. Do not hesitate to call 911 or scream for help.
- Be aware of obstacles while walking - wheel stops, little concrete bumpers, and more can cause you serious bodily injury.
By paying attention to why parking lots incidents happen and taking sensible precautions, you can avoid most parking lot incidents. Have a safe and happy holiday season.