Parking Lot Safety Tips
One of the most likely places to be involved in a fender bender is in a parking lot! We have traffic congestion in certain areas of our parking lots. Please increase your awareness and SLOW DOWN!
People seem to suspend their good judgment when looking for a parking space, driving through a parking lot or pulling out of a space. In a parking lot, people have their minds on everything else but driving!!
Here is an example, a driver spots someone with keys out headed to their car about 5 parking spots ahead. Their first reaction was to dart forward to make sure they got that new spot. They had such tunnel vision they did not see the van backing out on the left side just 3 spots ahead that by the time they realized it..well you got it a costly insurance claim and fenders bent on both vehicles. Please try and NOT GET TUNNEL VISION IN OUR PARKING LOTS!
Parking lots come in many shapes and sizes. Some are huge and have many floors like a parking deck, some are on street level, some are very small and have only few spaces, while others are on one level and have a great many spaces. When we pull into one of these locations there is a pattern for parking. Some are straight in, while others have parking spaces that are on a diagonal. In some cases there are arrows to show you the direction to enter each lane, while others can have traffic going in both directions. It is important to pay attention and not be distracted while looking for a place to park.
In addition to the difficulty in finding a place to put your vehicle, you should be aware of your surroundings. Are you pulling into a reserved space, are you parked next to a large vehicle, are you in a well-lit area if it is nighttime, it is important to be aware of all of these situations.
Another parking lot hazard is pedestrians. Most parking lots do not have provisions specifically for them to walk which means they walk in the traffic lanes, often with small children in tow. Here at headquarters you have people walking for their health, building to building, across parking lots or to the warehouses. Please slow down to the speed limit (10 mph, signs are posted) and increase your awareness for other employees, equipment and other vehicles. In addition, we have heavy equipment vehicles, trucks unloading shipments and a lot of workers in the area, so again please do not increase the hazard by speeding through the parking lots!
Driving in Reverse a Dangerous Task
Driving in the reverse gear is one of the most dangerous driving maneuvers new and experienced drivers can make. What makes driving in reverse difficult is the driver must position his body from looking straight ahead through the front windshield, to looking through the rear window. This technique usually means taking one hand off the steering wheel and draping it over the passenger seat.
It is important to remember that when backing up, you accelerate slowly because the front of your vehicle will swing out. This adds a second problem which is you must consistently turn your head from viewing the rear window to facing forward to observe traffic coming in your direction. This turning from front to back can be extremely dangerous for someone suffering from a neck injury or arthritis.
The following tips should help you when driving in reverse.
· Try avoiding backing up, if possible. You might want to consider making a legal U-turn, or driving around the block to come back to the parking spot or address you were looking for. Keep in mind that backing up on an interstate or rural highway is against the law. It’s always best to go to the next exit and come back.
· Dont distract yourself when backing up and that means no talking on a cell phone, texting a friend or engaging in conversation with another passenger. You need to keep focused on the driving, in a reverse maneuver.
· Make sure you know the dimensions of your vehicle especially if you arent driving your personal vehicle. There is a big difference in backing up a standard vehicle as compared to an SUV or truck.
· Remember when driving in reverse at night, there are added visibility problems. When driving in reverse, the traffic behind you only sees your back up and brake lights, which are not as bright as your headlights.
· As part of regular vehicle maintenance, always check to see that your back up and brake lights are in working order. Actually, you should check all your lights at least once a week.
· Before backing, make sure to check for any unseen children or objects in your way.
· In shopping malls or supermarket parking areas, back out of a parking space very slowly as many times other cars parked next to you will obstruct your view. And be especially aware of runaway shopping carts in supermarket parking lots.
Protect yourself in the parking lot:
The best ways to protect yourself and others in a parking lot is to be aware of everything moving for 360 degrees (all the way) around your car. Besides careless drivers, speeding vehicles and pedestrians in parking lots. Be aware that they can be a prime target for thieves, pickpockets, carjackers and vandals. Following are some general parking lot safety tips:
- Watch for cars cutting diagonally across lots; drive slowly and use your turn signals.
- When backing out of a parking lot space, be aware of waiting cars, others who are backing out at the same time and motorists speeding through lanes.
- Display proper body language that shows that you are aware of any suspicious situations and people.
- Beware when at the Post Office. Post office parking lots have the highest incidents of accidents due to frequent customer turnover.
- Don’t park between spots, especially in busy lots. You may only gain retribution from angry fellow shoppers.
- Avoid parking close to large vehicles if possible, as it will decrease your ability to see the area around you.
- Always hide your valuables and do not leave personal information displayed in your vehicle.
- Park in well-lit areas. If the lot is inadequately lit, let the management know.
- Get in the habit of rolling up your car windows and locking your car doors.
- Always have your keys ready when approaching your car and check the back seat and under the car before getting in.
When your mission is complete and you return to your car there are other precautions that should be taken.
· Have your keys ready.
· Remember where you parked the car.
· Scan the area for suspicious persons, to be sure you are not being followed.
· If there is a large truck or van parked next to you, you can enter your car from the passenger side.
· Look around your car before getting in, make sure no one is lurking around, or hiding in the back seat.
· Once you are in the car, lock your doors and leave! Do not sit in the car doing other things.
When you leave and are backing out of your space, you must be aware of people walking behind your car. Be aware that visibility may be a problem when you back out of your space and a large van, suv, or truck prevents you from seeing someone in the traffic aisle. Of course, the ideal situation would be for special sections for trucks and very large vehicles, and other rows set up for small and medium size cars, however, it does not work because most people take the very first space available, regardless of the size of the vehicle.
Don’t put yourself at risk. Take all the necessary precautions to be safe in parking lot areas. Safety First, Safety Always!
Information from Clovis PD and National Safety Council.
Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald
Safety and Security Manager for Plateau