How to Avoid Parking Lot Crashes

6 March 2015 - By Eugene Herbert

Hi Folks…


Having spent a little more time in parking lots of late (airports and hotels) I am amazed that we don’t see more “incidents” which have result from poor driving. This (along with a few near misses from other drivers) prompted this discussion.


While  many see parking to be a nerve-wracking experience, it  in reality doesn’t need to be  if some basic actions  are taken and if total reliance  on camera’s  is not the standard to which we aspire  -  then drivers can avoid a ‘crash’. Good news for those who favour American cars the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US has mandated that all new automobiles include some type of rear-view camera by 2018. However, rear-view cameras alone are not 100-percent reliable when it comes to avoiding parking lot collisions.


Scanning the Surroundings


It is crucial for drivers to be fully aware of their surroundings while driving in and out of parking lots due to all of the quick and unpredictable activity that can take place, some of which are:


·         Vehicles backing out and


·         Pedestrians walking through the parking aisles.


The best thing drivers can do, as they’re entering a parking lot, is to keep their eyes up, focus farther ahead, and let their peripheral vision assist them with the activities that are close by. This way, they can identify outside movement seconds earlier and adjust their driving accordingly.


Another strategy recommended for avoiding parking lot crashes is finding parking areas where drivers can move up to the forward space  (“pull-through” ) if it is not occupied by another vehicle, and if the parking lot is straight and not angled. One company in the US showed a 96-percent reduction in the company’s accident rate for backing and parking over a 15-month period.


This is one of the simplest ways to avoid incidents in lots, especially for large vehicles, and those that do not have a useful mirror system set up.


One of the more simple ways ( albeit that it involves  some walking ) is  that drivers, if they have time to do so, try to find parking in sections of a lot where there are more spaces available and less competition for those spaces — specifically, the middle or rear of a parking lane instead of the front of the lane.


It amazing that people so often circle around and around trying to find the closest spot to the building that they’re going to. That is where all the heavy congestion is.


In addition to the above there are a number of other suggestions:


·        Doing a quick walk-around to make sure there are no obstructions near the vehicle – something every advanced driver should do. 


·         Determining if people in the immediate area are getting in or out of their vehicles. 


·         Hooting a couple of times when backing up.


·         Turning on emergency flashers if it is daytime, since reverse lights may not be as noticeable to other drivers.


·         Opening up the driver- and passenger-side windows also assists in hearing what is happening in the nearby surroundings. 


If you are given to being over-reliant on technology, remember that there are times where technology just cannot do the job. For example, you could have dirt on your sensors, or rainy weather or sun glare could affect the sensors.


Ultimately, to avoid parking-related crashes one can summarise it in one simple phrase: “Do what you can to identify and be identified.




About 14 percent of all vehicle collisions that result in damage occur in parking lots according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).


Till next time - be careful how you park and remember you are better equipped to take control of a situation on arriving than when leaving.


Eugene Herbert


Group Managing Director

The RAC Group 


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