What can be even more stressful than navigating a busy roadway? Parking in a crowded lot! No matter how long you’ve been driving, be it months or decades, here’s a quick parking lot etiquette course: It takes just three minutes to learn, but graduation might take a little longer!
1. Respect Parking Lot Markings
Ignoring even the most basic driving rules in parking lots, like following traffic flow arrows or using parking spaces as traffic lanes, can lead to confusion, crashes, and injuries for both you and other pedestrians around you. Unprotected pedestrians moving to and from their vehicles are particularly in danger should drivers ignore such restrictions. In 2014, 244 unprotected pedestrian workers were killed in parking lots because of vehicle crashes, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics .
To create a safe environment for all parties involved, respect all markings, traffic signs, and traffic arrows when in a parking lot. When driving around in a parking lot, don’t use open parking spaces to slip over into another lane — crashes or injuries could result.
2. Park Straight and Center
Whether in haste or in pride, drivers parking crooked in a space, over the marked lines, or across two parking spaces, show a particular lack of respect for their fellow drivers. Parking crooked makes it difficult for others to get into adjacent spaces. Parking too close to the lines will likely lead to frustration and door dings. Parking across spaces might protect your car from door dings, but does nothing to endear you to other drivers.
When entering a parking space, whether pulling in or backing in, take your time to park as straight as possible and in the center of the space. Park in a space appropriate for your vehicle — no trucks in compact-car spaces — and leave room for drivers to get into their trunks. This makes it easier for other drivers to get into adjacent spaces and reduces door ding chances. If you’re concerned someone might ding your new car, park farther away — everyone can benefit from a walk!
3. Be Patient
Drivers can often find themselves in high-stress situations when parking, whether it’s due to loud passengers causing distractions or battling heavy parking traffic during an event or the holiday season. Last nerves can fray and tempers can flare, leading to irrational decision making and potential harmful situations. If you’re traveling to a destination where you think you might have even the littlest bit of difficulty parking (too few spaces, parallel-only options), leave a few minutes early to give yourself extra time, should you need it.
If available parking spaces are few, drive slowly, while adhering to traffic flow arrows, until you find one. Claim a parking spot by stopping, leaving enough room for the vehicle to exit its spot, and turn on your turn signal to indicate your intentions. Respect when others do the same, but don’t insist on your rights when someone ignores it. Then, patiently, move into the parking spot.
If large, busy parking lots seem too overwhelming to you, practice, practice, practice. Head over to an unoccupied lot with a parent or adult driver as your passenger to build up your parking confidence, speed, and accuracy.
Because traffic law isn’t enforced in private parking lots, if there’s anything to be taken away from these points, it’s to let consideration and patience be the law . If complacency and overconfidence make highways dangerous, maybe it’s inexperience and impatience that make parking lots so dangerous, not only for teen drivers, but drivers of any experience. A little balance is all that we need, though, and a little balance in parking lots and life might do everyone some good!
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