Parking Lot Safety: What New Drivers Need to Know

Driving in a parking lot is pretty easy, right? Not so fast. Every year, tens of thousands of accidents happen in parking lots, especially around major holidays. And while most accidents aren't too serious, drivers and pedestrians still get hurt — and insurance premiums can go up for those involved.

Don't be that driver that causes a fender-bender. Keep these safe driving tips in mind the next time you enter a garage or parking lot. You'd be surprised at how many experienced drivers completely ignore them.

9 Safe Driving Tips for Parking Lots

Master parking lot driving with these nine simple tips. Don't worry, they're easy to put into practice.

1. Drive Slowly

You're sharing the lot with pedestrians, cars backing up, and shopping carts. Keep everyone (and yourself) safe by slowing down, even when there isn't a posted speed limit.

2. Use Your Blinkers

Always use turn signals in parking lots, especially before pulling into a spot. This way, other drivers can anticipate what you'll do next.

3. Scan for Pedestrians

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users, and parking lots aren't completely safe. Watch out for people getting into and out of cars, and be ready to brake. Often, pedestrians are easy to miss because they're concealed behind cars and trucks, especially children.

4. Don't Go the Wrong Way

Pay attention to the white arrows painted on the pavement to ensure you're going the right way. You may also see traffic signs enforcing the flow of traffic.

5. Back Out Slowly

When you're getting ready to leave the parking space, do it slowly. Turn around and glance over your shoulder to check that there are no cars, carts, or pedestrians behind you. If you drive a smaller car (and are parked next to larger vehicles), this is especially important. A rear-view camera can also help, but don't rely solely on it.

6. Put Down the Phone

Sixty-six percent of drivers say they take phone calls while driving in parking lots. But distracted driving is dangerous. For example, if you're paying attention to your phone, you might not see a pedestrian that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Do the responsible thing and only use your phone while you're still parked.

7. Watch Out for Carts

Watch out for stray shopping carts that may be in your way, especially as you're backing out of the parking space. Always check your blind spots. Carts can dent your vehicle (and make your insurance premiums go up).

8. Be Careful Opening Doors

Never throw open your door in a busy parking lot — you might dent the vehicle next to yours. Be especially careful on windy days.

9. Park at a Distance

If you can, leave some room between your vehicle and others. It's the best way to avoid dents (and you'll have an easier time loading the car).

Empty Parking Lots Are Great for Learning

Head to an empty parking lot when you're just learning to drive, as they're the perfect place to practice. Have an adult with you who's patient and willing to teach you critical skills.

If you go during a non-busy time of day, you probably won't come across other drivers (or pedestrians), so you can learn simple things — like adjusting your mirrors or gauging how much pressure to apply to the gas and brake pedals. You could even learn more advanced skills (like parallel parking) without inconveniencing other drivers or putting yourself at risk. 

Driver's Ed Sets You Up for Safe Driving

If you want to get behind the wheel and conquer your freedom, you need to enroll in a driver's ed course. Not only is it mandatory in virtually all states, but it'll also teach you the basics you must know to stay safe on the road. And now that online driver's ed classes are available, you won't have any problem fitting them into your schedule.

Get Started with your Online Drivers Ed Course Today

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Updated 05/09/23