Parking Safely: Staying Safe in All Areas

When most drivers think of driving safely, they rarely picture parking lots. However, according to the National Safety Council, more than 50,000 crashes, with 60,000 injuries, happen every year in parking lots and garages. Since driving responsibly happens any time a driver is behind the wheel, here are some of the risks to watch out for in these spaces and how to avoid them.

Common Risks in Parking

Typically, parking lots and garages are areas where people drive slowly. This is because drivers are looking for spots, but there are also specific hazards, like cars pulling out of spots unexpectedly, more pedestrians around, and limited visibility. There are also drivers who don’t park in the stalls correctly, making it harder for other drivers to park near them. When parking lots or garages are full, people can get aggressive over parking spots too.

Another significant hazard is distracted driving and distracted parking. Unfortunately, many drivers feel a false sense of security when driving at slower speeds and sometimes having time to wait. The cellphone is a major distraction in parking lots and garages. A survey conducted by the National Safety Council about driving behaviors in parking lots and garages showed drivers saying they do these behaviors in parking areas:

  • Making phone calls (66%)
  • Putting information into a GPS (63%)
  • Texting (56%)
  • Using social media (52%)
  • Sending and receiving email (50%)
  • Taking pictures or watching videos (49%)

These distractions take a lot of concentration away from a driver’s attention on the road. Regardless of speed or location, it is always dangerous to be distracted behind the wheel. Even when waiting in line for parking, it is still important to pay attention.

Avoiding Dangers

Being aware of common dangers can help drivers be more vigilant at avoiding them. Staying self-aware of habits and behaviors is important to fixing them. Knowing what common problems are can also help watch out for other drivers’ behaviors too. Common tips for staying safe are taught in driver’s education courses, but are good to review:

  • Always watch oncoming traffic
  • Drive slowly
  • Watch for pedestrians, especially children who are shorter and less predictable
  • Don’t engage in road rage
  • Keep our phone put away until the car is in park
  • Never cut through a parking lot. Drive only in designated driving lanes

Other best practices for staying safe in parking lots and garages include parking correctly in the stall. When pulling into a spot, center the car in the stall. This helps provide adequate space for everyone in the vehicle to exit and enter safely, but it also gives other drivers enough space to park in the stalls on either side of your car. Don’t pull too far into the stall but do pull in as far as possible without crossing the line. This is important to keep driving lanes clear, provide more visibility to drivers, and to make it easier for cars to park around your vehicle.

Responsible drivers focus on being safe whenever the car is running. Be aware of your surroundings, anticipate other drivers’ moves, and don’t be in so much of a hurry that you risk the safety of yourself and others.

What You Should Know to Avoid Intersection Crashes

Avoid Intersection Crashes

Driving has many risks involved, but not all risks are created equal. Did you know that about 50% of crashes happen in an intersection, making it one of the most dangerous places to drive? Yet, so many drivers pass through intersections all the time and don’t ever have a second thought about it. When people know better, they tend to do better. Here are some ways you can stay safe in intersections.

Be Watchful

The biggest fault in most crashes is that people are not watching their surroundings well enough. In fact, 44.1% of intersection crashes are caused from inadequate surveillance of surroundings. If the intersection is run by road signs, like a two-way stop, four-way stop, or yield sign, it is important that every driver stops completely and looks each direction. Sometimes taking the same route every day or being in a hurry leads to drivers to become reckless and rush through.

At intersections where there is a light, drivers still need to be watching their surroundings. Pedestrians in the cross walk, people on bicycles or motorcycles, other drivers making a turn, or another driver slowing or stopping ahead of you can cause a crash. Approaching an intersection while watching in all directions is a great start to staying safe.

Avoid Speeding Through

In busy intersections of all varieties, views can be obstructed by other cars, trees, and buildings. This limits your ability to see pedestrians in the cross walk and people trying to turn. Even in an intersection with great visibility, you can’t always anticipate another driver’s moves correctly. Sometimes cars will take chances by turning without enough space or changing lanes abruptly. It just isn’t possible to always watch and plan for dangers. For these reasons, it is imperative to not speed through intersections. The faster the speed, the less time there is to react. 

Another part of speeding through intersections comes when there is a light turning red. Once the light has turned yellow, all vehicles are expected to clear the intersection. Since there are many intersections where a driver if waiting for traffic to stop before turning, it is extra dangerous to speed through. Instead, slow down and stop when the traffic light is yellow. On the other hand, when a light first turns green, slowly pull into the intersection. Other cars may still be clearing the intersection or even running a red light.

Use Correct Signaling

While anticipating another driver’s moves is a big part of driving safely, it is still important to let others know your intentions by using your signals. If you are planning on changing lanes, use your signal. If you are turning at an intersection, use your signal. If you are turning where there is a turn lane, move into the correct lane while signaling and keep it on until your turn is complete. When first turning on your signal, make sure you aren’t doing it too early, confusing and frustrating other drivers. Also don’t signal at the last minute or else drivers can’t plan for your actions. Remember that it isn’t smart (or legal) to change lanes in the middle of an intersection. 

Use Extra Caution

These tips are a great way to stay safe in intersections. While there will still be factors out of your control, knowing how to approach and drive through intersections can help keep you safer. Sharing your knowledge with a new driver or as a passenger can help spread safe practices too.