Many people make the mistake of thinking that by parking in a lot or garage that an accident can’t happen, after all, they are driving at lower speeds and no one is going to write them a ticket. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Actually, drivers are more focused on finding a parking space and least concentrated on their driving. Pedestrians are often distracted and more focused on quickly getting to their favorite restaurant than watching for other vehicles or looking for crosswalks. These factors combined may increase the likelihood of an accident or injury.
It is important to view parking garages and lots as if they were streets and intersections with speed limits, signs, and traffic patterns. Always remember, rules of the road and defensive driving skills apply to off-street parking facilities as well.
Here are some general guidelines for safe parking in garages and parking lots:
- Obey the Speed Limits: PARK Roanoke garages have 5 MPH speed limit signs posted and they are there for a reason – high speed parking garage chases are best left for the movies. Do not race for an open parking space, there’s plenty for everyone.
- Watch out for pedestrians. Whether there is a crosswalk or not, pedestrians always have the right of way. Pedestrians may be distracted by carrying packages, looking for keys or pushing a stroller. Stay alert and always yield to pedestrians. If you drive an electric vehicle, they may not hear you.
- If driving a large vehicle, van or truck, do not park near a turn or in a curve. Find another spot out of the way from the traffic aisle or close turns.
- Never stop behind parked vehicles while you are waiting for a space to open up, this blocks traffic for those who are trying to either enter or exit. If someone is pulling out from their spot or backing out, be courteous and stop for them, do not try and skirt around their vehicle.
- Obey the stop signs, yield signs, and directional arrows. Drive slowly around curves and on ramps and when navigating into the exit or entrance lanes.
- Park according to the size of your vehicle. When selecting a space to park, select one that “fits” the size of your vehicle. Never force your extra-large sedan or SUV into a space marked as “compact.”
- Center your vehicle within the lines of the parking space. Be sure to park as straight as possible to prevent your vehicle from being an obstacle for others. By not crowding other parkers, this helps prevent door dings.
- Watch for drivers backing out of blind spots. When a smaller car is parked between a larger vehicle or SUV, they have no choice but to back blindly out of their space. So be alert and give them a break.
- Park as far forward as possible, either all the way into the space or to the wall. This prevents the parking area from becoming an obstacle course.
- Park only in designated areas. If you are parking for an hour or a day, do not park in reserved spaces or in spaces indicated for monthly parking or you may receive a parking violation ticket!
- Slow down in the rain. A parking lot filled with rain, snow or slush can splash over a passing pedestrian or even another driver impairing visibility.
- Don’t pull too far forward if you drive a small vehicle (Mini Cooper, Honda Fit, Smart Car, etc…) Someone might not see your car and think the space is ‘open’ and pull in a bit too quickly. Oops!
- Be aware of the vehicle on either side of you as to not accidentally hit the doors and cause dings, scratches or dents.
- Keep the parking surface clean. Nobody likes to see trash blowing when parking, so please properly dispose of empty food wrappers, ash tray contents, drinks, and other items when you have access to a waste receptacle.
- Do not park in those spaces marked for the disabled, unless you have a valid disabled placard or license plate. If the spaces closest to the exits are not marked, leave them open for the elderly, disabled, and even for mothers with small children who may need the extra space.
- Keep a close watch on your children so that they do not dart out into traffic or between vehicles.
- When parking in a perpendicular space, depending on the layout, consider not pulling through to the other side, because you may be pointed against the flow of traffic when you need to exit!
After all, parking is really all about people and their behaviors, not vehicles. Whether in a public parking garage, lot or on a street, it is just as important to be considerate of others as it is in a business, store or restaurant setting. Everyone makes a mistake at some point in time, so please be forgiving and courteous to the other driver and to pedestrians alike.
Off street parking garages and lots are a public resource. It helps businesses grow by providing ample parking for customers, visitors, as well as employees. Safety impacts not only the general public, but those people who use the facilities day in and day out. Drivers and pedestrians alike can be safe and accident free – all it takes is following some simple rules and applying common courtesy.
Here are some helpful links for more information:
- Roanoke City Police Crime Prevention & Safety Tips
- National Highway Transportation Safety Administration “Driving Safety” Information
- Virginia DMV Driver Safety Information
- AAA Driving Safety Tips and Resources
- Safety Tips for Motorists Sharing the Road with Cyclists
- Virginia DMV Driver Manual
- The Drowsy Driving Prevention Guide – How You Can Stay Awake & Alive
- Pedestrian Safety Tips to Teach Your Kids
- 8 Tips to Stop Your Teen’s Texting & Driving Habit
- Teen Driver and Parent Resources from roadsafetygroup.org
- The Essential Guide to Car Emergency Kits
- Guide to Bicycle Safety
- Senior Drivers: 7 Tips for Driver Safety
- Texting While Walking More Common, More Dangerous
- Drugged Driving Prevention
- Safety Tips and Warning Signs for Older Drivers
- Transportation Options for Seniors who don’t drive
- Safety Tips for Senior Drivers
- Safe Driving Practices
- Mental Preparation for Driving
- DMV Sign Practice Test
- Tips for Driving with Pets
- VA DMV License Practice Tests