Whether you’re a pedestrian or a driver, a parking lot probably feels relatively safe. Unlike busy city streets or high-speed freeways, parking lots have low speeds. Parking lot accidents still happen, however, and can cause serious injury or property damage.
The good news is it’s easy to lower your chance of being in an accident in a parking lot simply by paying attention and slowing down. Want to lower your risk even more? Follow these little-known parking lot safety tips to make your next trip safer.
Parking Lot Safety for Pedestrians
Pedestrians can encounter many hazards in a busy parking lot. Inattentive drivers could make the simple task of walking across the lot more dangerous than it should be. You can help keep yourself safe using these simple steps:
1. Use Crosswalks
It seems like a no-brainer, but using the designated pedestrian areas in a parking lot could lessen your chance of an accident. Drivers don’t expect a pedestrian in the main driving lane or empty parking spaces. Walking in these areas increases the chance of surprising a driver.
Stick to crosswalks where drivers are more likely to notice you. Remember to look both ways before crossing — even if you have the right of way.
2. Put Your Phone Away
You probably know not to use your phone while driving, but it can be just as important when you’re walking in a parking lot. You’re not behind the wheel of a vehicle, but looking at your phone could leave you open to hazards.
Put your phone down, take off your headphones and pay attention when you’re walking in a parking lot. You can always call your friend or listen to music when you’re back in a safe area.
3. Stay Visible
Parking lot accidents involving a pedestrian usually happen when a driver doesn’t see a person walking. Making yourself more visible to drivers makes walking across a parking lot safer. Try to wear clothing that makes you more visible, by avoiding dark colors if you need to walk through a dimly lit parking garage. Staying in well-lit areas of the parking lot can also help make you more visible to drivers.
4. Keep Your Feet
Staying visible to drivers means avoiding tripping or falling near traffic. Slipping on ice, loose gravel, or a water puddle puts you outside the line of sight of almost every car. The right pair of shoes help keep you stable and upright as you walk through the parking lot. Consider keeping a spare pair of comfortable shoes with good traction in your car. Not only will you decrease the chance of slipping and falling as you walk, but you’ll likely be more comfortable during your drive.
Parking Lot Safety for Drivers
As a driver in a parking lot, it’s your responsibility to watch for other cars and pedestrians. Paying attention to your surroundings and going slow are some of the best ways to improve parking lot safety. Lower your risk of a parking lot accident by following these safety tips for drivers.
1. Choose a Spot Further Away
Congestion and traffic in parking lots tend to occur at the end nearest the building. You can cut down your risk of a parking lot accident by parking a few spots further away than everyone else. Try to choose a spot that doesn’t have other cars around it but is close enough to your destination so you’re not forced to walk from the far end of the lot.
2. Park Correctly
It’s easy to park crooked or take up more than one space if you’re pressed for time. Doing so, however, could leave your car with scratches, scrapes and dings from shopping carts or other vehicles. Park in your spot correctly by centering your car between the lines.
If you’re not lined up correctly, take the time to realign your car. This helps you avoid damage to your car and makes it easier for other drivers to park in the spots next to you safely.
3. Back into Your Space
Backing out of a parking space can leave you prone to blind spots. Most rear windshields have much lower visibility than the front windshield. The type of car you drive can make poor visibility even worse. For example, pickup trucks and large SUVs usually have a larger blind spot behind the rear bumper than a compact sedan.
Avoid the dangers of backing out of a spot by backing into your spot (if allowed) and if you can do so safely. This lets you easily pull forward when it’s time to leave. Alternately, pull through to the space in front of your car as long as you’ll be able to follow the flow of traffic when it’s time to set off.
4. Take Extra Care in Bad Weather
You probably slow down and pay extra attention when you’re driving in rain, snow or windy weather. The same rules apply when you leave the road and enter a parking lot. The lower speeds of parking lots don’t completely prevent you from sliding on ice or wet spots.
Bad weather also makes it more difficult to see pedestrians or other cars. Pedestrians might not be paying attention as they try to stay dry and warm on the way to their car. Take your time, slow down, and do a double-take at intersections in parking lots during bad weather.