7 Smart Tips For Staying Safe In A Parking Lot

Parking lots are a lot more dangerous than you think. Here are 7 smart ways to make sure you and others stay safe in parking facilities.

After navigating busy roads or enduring traffic jams, drivers may feel it’s safe to let their guard down once they pull into a parking lot or garage in search of a spot. 

 After all, it might feel like second nature given you’ve done it a million times before. Or maybe it’s because it feels like you’re home free: you’re no longer on the road and you don’t have to pay attention to people or other moving cars. 

But it’s exactly this false sense of security that leads to the alarming number of parking lot accidents every year. 

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), around 50,000 car accidents occur in parking garages and lots annually, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries each year.

Keep yourself, other drivers, and pedestrians protected when you’re in a parking facility by knowing what dangers to look out for and by following these 10 safety tips.

What makes parking lots dangerous?

Parking lot injuries and accidents can be caused by several factors, such as the design and maintenance of the parking facility. We also need to consider the behavior of drivers and pedestrians in these areas. 

Here are reasons why this staple of modern urban life is more dangerous than you might think:

1. Poor lighting

Drivers and pedestrians need a certain amount of light to be able to safely walk to their vehicles or navigate their cars in a parking facility. 

And when there’s little to no light in these places, it’s not just an inconvenience—it’s a safety hazard. 

This is the biggest issue for people who park their cars in underground or covered parking garages.

In these types of facilities, some parking spaces are not visible from all angles due to a lack of adequate lighting, making it difficult for drivers to see all activity and avoid collisions.

2. Inadequate security

Unfortunately, most parking lots and garages do not have a dedicated security team on site.

And when there are no security personnel present, people are more likely to not follow rules, such as following speed limits, obeying signage, and more. It also poses other risk factors, such as theft and other criminal activities.

While some parking facilities are equipped with security cameras, most of the time these security cameras are not working.

In some cases, this critical security measure is rendered useless due to poor lighting, resulting in an inability to capture a clear view of the surroundings.

3. Bad layout and design of the parking lot

Poorly designed parking lots and parking garages can also pose potential dangers as it can lead to confusion, pedestrian traffic congestion, and accidents. 

For example, parking facilities with narrow lanes, tight turns or awkwardly positioned obstacles can make it hard for drivers to navigate safely. 

If drivers find it difficult to see parking spots due to inadequate or poor markings, you can expect driver errors like parking in non-designated areas or taking up a bigger space than needed. 

Parking lots with limited visibility, such as those with blind spots, badly marked directional signs, exit signs and obscured entrances, can also increase the risk of accidents. 

4. Increased pedestrian traffic

While parking lots have lower speed limits and are designed so cars move more slowly, these areas are still full of activity. 

In shopping centers and other bustling areas – parking facilities tend to be busy and chaotic, with pedestrians and vehicles in each other’s way and a lot of distracted individuals in one place.

This means drivers have to be wary of people with shopping carts, strollers, and small children when pulling in or out of the area. 

5. Reckless and distracted drivers 

Lastly, we can’t disregard the human factor. After all, it doesn’t take much for someone to become distracted behind the wheel. 

They might be checking their GPS on their cell phone or trying to send a text. Even a momentary lack of focus could lead to a vehicle striking a pedestrian or hitting another car. 

Another risk you may face is an encounter with an emotionally charged driver. The harder it is to find a space, the more frustrated (and angry) some drivers get. 

You may be familiar with road rage, but parking rage is an equally serious problem. A quick Google search of parking spot violence will turn up an alarming number of such incidents. And unfortunately, most of these parking disputes end fatally

At the very least, parking rage can lead to drivers being so hyper-focused on trying to get to a spot that they’re oblivious to the rest of their surroundings – including any pedestrians who might be present. That greatly increases the chances a driver will make a mistake. 

7 ways to stay safe in a parking lot

Make sure to always lock your doors and windows when parking

Here are 10 parking lot safety tips to help protect yourself and others when you’re looking to pull into a spot or getting ready to get back on the road.

1. Park in a well-lit area 

When selecting a parking lot, choose a well-lit area. Ideally, choose a spot that’s under a light if you can.

With that said, it’s recommended to avoid choosing a dark or secluded spot. By parking in an area with adequate light, you will be able to watch out for potential hazards. 

Choosing to park near a streetlight or parking lot lamps also keeps you safe if someone attempts to hide near your car when you return, such as thieves and other unsavory characters.

2. Avoid distractions 

People tend to get distracted when they arrive at their destination, thinking that the dangerous part of their drive is over.

The NSC found around two-thirds of drivers pull into parking lots and garages while talking on their phones or fiddling with their GPS.

While it’s tempting to scroll your phone while rolling in or out of a parking lot, it can have bad consequences. Distracted driving has played at least some role in almost one in five or 20% of fatal traffic collisions in 2021. 

To avoid being part of this statistic, wait until you’re parked to get on your phone. Before leaving any location, make sure to set up all of your technology needs — like GPS directions or a text to let a friend or your boss know you’re on your way. 

3. Reverse park if possible

According to the NSC, almost one in 10 pedestrian deaths in parking lots happen due to backup incidents. 

This is because backing out of a spot leaves room for blind spots that make it hard to see pedestrians and other vehicles, making it the most common way collisions occur in parking lots.

If the parking garage or lot allows it, try to pull through the parking slot in front of you when parking to remove the need to reverse when you leave. This gives you more visibility to look for hazards or pedestrians on the road. It also allows you to continue driving forward when it’s time to pull out. 

If you have to pull through the parking spot, make sure to backup cautiously from the space.

4. Stay alert

When you think of parking lots, you probably think of cars slowly cruising in open spaces. 

However, it’s important not to let your guard down in these areas and practice treating parking lots like busy streets where drivers and pedestrians can be unpredictable.

Remember, people are still walking in parking facilities as they make their way to and from their cars. Unfortunately, many parking lots also have intersections that don’t have visible stop signs or crosswalks. This makes it more important than usual to be on guard. 

With that said, remain alert to your surroundings. Always look both ways before crossing any intersection. 

Practice defensive driving tactics and be on the lookout for pedestrians and other drivers who are not being cautious and are busy loading their cars, paying attention to their children and carts, etc. 

5. Slow down

When drivers drive off the main road into a parking lot, they usually reduce their speed. However, they might need to slow down even more once they’re inside the parking area.

When you switch from driving on the road to driving in a parking lot, it might seem like you’re already going slow because of the speed difference. However, usually, you actually need to slow down even more.

Once you’ve slowed down to enter the parking lot, think about gently tapping the brakes or easing off the gas pedal to reduce your speed further once you’re inside the lot.

6. Be a responsible driver

One of the top tips to stay safe in any parking facility is to be a responsible driver and follow directions. 

Parking facilities are designed to make the flow of traffic safer for both pedestrians and drivers with the help of road signs, such as stop signs, yield signs, and directional arrows.

Watch out for these to help the parking lot traffic flow smoothly and reduce the chance of being involved in an accident. 

With that said, drivers should also use the aisle of the parking lot or garage to move towards the parking space you’re eyeing for. Don’t cut across aisles or spaces to take a shortcut.

If you don’t stay in driving areas, you’re going to learn the hard way the shortcut is not worth the trouble or the potential consequences if you have a fender bender or hit a pedestrian. 

7. Secure your vehicle

When you’ve already parked your vehicle in your spot, don’t be complacent. Many car thefts happen due to opportunities unfortunately provided by car owners who leave their vehicles unlocked, engines running, or keys easily accessible. Make sure to lock your car to prevent theft. 

If you own a steering wheel lock or other anti-theft devices, make sure to use them. Double-check that you have your windows and doors locked and ensure your car’s alarm system is activated. 

Don’t forget to do the same when you’re leaving the parking lot. Lock your doors when you get back in as you get ready to take off. 

Additionally, don’t leave valuables in your vehicle, and never forget to take your keys with you. 

What should you do in case an accident happens? 

Unfortunately, no matter how well you follow directions, stay alert for other cars, slow down or practice defensive driving techniques, there’s always a chance you’ll be in an accident.

If you find yourself in a parking lot accident, here’s a simple guide on what to do:

  1. Check if anyone is hurt. If they are, call for medical help.
  2. Call the police to report the incident.
  3. Gather the other driver’s contact and insurance details, and take photos of the accident scene if possible.
  4. Contact your insurance company. Make sure your car insurance is up to date and that you have the coverage you need so you’re prepared in case of an accident. 

Find secure monthly parking spaces with Spacer 

Get peace of mind knowing your car is secure by booking a monthly parking space with Spacer

Choose from thousands of hidden-gem parking spots in major cities including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, San Diego and more with the security features you want. 

Our comprehensive listings provide detailed information, including photos, ensuring you park in a safe and well-lit parking spot, reducing the risk of accidents.

Read our guide on how to find the best monthly parking spot near you on Spacer.

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