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.
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.