A lot of focus is placed on safe driving on the roads and highways of British Columbia, but did you know that a large number of accidents occur in parking lots? ICBC reports that in a recent year approximately 150,000 motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) occurred in parking lots, resulting in 5,400 injuries. 96,000 of those resulted in a claim being filed. To help bring this number down Park is here with some helpful tips.
7 Practical Tips to Help Prevent Accidents When Navigating Your Vehicles in Parking Lots
1. Abide by the Speed Limit
There may not always be signage in place, but there is a clearly defined speed limit which comes into effect from the moment you enter any commercial or public parking lot in BC. The maximum speed in a parking lot is 20 km/h. When driving slow you have enough time to react to when a vehicle unexpectedly leaves their parking spot or if a pedestrian pops out between parked vehicles and into your lane.
2. Pay Close Attention to Lot Signage
Most parking lots have signage in place to indicate stops, exits, entryways, and directions to prevent vehicles from meeting each other head-on. Pay close attention to these signs, which may be posted on overhanging installations, on lot posts, and painted onto the asphalt lanes in front of you. They are there for your protection.
3. Park Facing-Out
Tune-up your backing-in skills, because parking facing-out is one of the most effective ways to avoid hitting a pedestrian or other vehicle when leaving a stall. When you reverse into a lane from a space there are potential blind spots hiding obstacles.
4. Park Away from the Crowd
We know it’s tempting to park as close to the entrance as possible, but these are also the most crowded areas of a parking lot. The more crowded, the higher the risk of an MVA. Park further away (but ensure it’s in a well-lit space) when you see a cluster of vehicles. The reduced risk of an accident is worth the few extra steps to your vehicle – plus, it’s great exercise!
5. Avoid Distracted Parking
Driving while distracted is the leading cause of MVAs in BC, and this includes those that occur in parking lots. The problem, is that many people forget to take precautions, especially when they are returning to their vehicle after leaving a mall, office, or other establishment. The latter is true because they bring activities (read: distractions) from the outside into the vehicle with them, and persist with sipping that cup of coffee or carrying on a conversation (etc.) when pulling out of their stall.
Moving forward, leave all distractions in the lot before turning the ignition. Put the smartphone away, tuck your coffee into a cup holder, stop fiddling with auto-infotainment and climate controls, cease conversations with passengers, and follow all best practices regarding distracted driving prevention.
6. Let ‘Em Have It
Don’t do the parking lot dance. Like most of us, you may follow behind a departing party in the hopes of scoring their parking space, only to find that another driver arriving from the opposite direction has the same plan. This game of chicken often leads to anger and frustration, which can then lead to bad decision making behind the wheel. If you reach an impasse, take the high road and let them have the space. Find a better spot on the outside (as per tip #4) and you’ll be safer (and happier) for it.
7. Follow All Rules of the Road
The best way to look at safe parking, is to consider a lot in the exact same way you do the open road. Follow all rules of the road as defined by BC’s Motor Vehicle Act and the province’s safe driving guidelines. That means no cutting diagonally through a lot, drive only in appropriate lanes, use your signal light on all turns, and so forth.