Driver Courtesy Month—Parking Lot Etiquette

Welcome to Driver Courtesy Month!

This blog is part three of our month-long series on Driver Courtesy. Check out Part 1 and Part 2! Don’t forget to take the online quiz Are You a Courteous Driver?

Courteous driving is safe driving and this is especially important in parking lots. The mantra of courteous driving is basically a take on the Golden Rule—drive like you want others to drive. This is especially true in parking lots.

A staggering 20 percent of vehicular accidents occur in parking lots. Motorists and pedestrians have a false sense of security in parking lots due to the slow speeds and perhaps distractions—all of which can be easily controlled by you.

Credit: Runner1928

Maintaining courtesy and vigilance while driving through a parking lot is essential for the safety of all parking lot users. Here are some general rules of thumb when driving in a parking lot:

  • Be patient.
  • Drive slow and no multitasking. Pay attention and use your situational awareness—know who just returned to their vehicle and might soon be backing out and those who are getting out of their vehicle to become pedestrians.
  • Obey all traffic signs and lot markings.
  • Signal your intentions.
  • Take notice of the entrances and exits and avoid any no parking zone areas, handicapped, or reserved spots.
  • If you can, avoid parking nearest the entrance/exit to the lot and the entrance to the building or outside facility. These areas are usually more congested and you will likely encounter more vehicles and pedestrians.
  • When looking for a spot, try not to let that be your total focus and keep your situational awareness on high alert.
  • Drive in the center of the lane and park in the center of the space.

  • Don’t stalk pedestrians walking back to their cars.
  • Don’t wait for someone to leave a spot, unless they have already indicated they are backing out of the space. Give them enough room and then take the space that has been vacated. Blocking traffic for a spot can make drivers behind you frustrated and might even provoke road rage.
  • Enter your space by backing up whenever possible so that it is easier to leave…this is especially true if you drive a smaller vehicle and have trouble seeing over larger vehicles to back out of a space.
  • Only park in a space that fits your vehicle. If you park in two small of a space and take up two spaces, it is not very courteous and might cause road rage.
  • Pull into the space as far as possible so that drivers and pedestrians can safely go past you.
  • When you open the door, look first at how far the next vehicle is to yours and that there is no one coming. Open the door slowly to avoid denting someone else’s car. Teach your children this technique as well.
  • When you exit your vehicle, you have now become a pedestrian. Remain situationally aware, courteous and vigilant as you safely walk to the building.
  • When you return to your vehicle, don’t feel pressure to leave your spot right immediately. Lock your doors and put on your seat belt first thing. Make sure everything and everyone is secure, use your phone before you start moving, and look around you before you slowly leave the space.

Credit: sea turtle

  • When backing out, pay particular attention to nearby vehicles. You don’t want to back out and hit someone else who is also backing out at the same time.
  • Don’t honk at other drivers or pedestrians needlessly. If someone is about to back out (maybe you are in their blind spot), tap your horn slightly as a warning not as a rebuke.
  • Remember to control your road rage. If someone becomes aggressive towards you, lock your doors and don’t react. If it becomes persistent, call 911.

Another thing to remember is that about one in nine property crimes occur in parking lots. For your own safety and no matter long you will be away from your vehicle, take the keys out of the ignition, close all windows, lock all doors, hide valuables (or better yet don’t bring them).

Before you leave your vehicle, become situationally aware of what is happening in the vicinity. At night, park under a lighted area and maintain vigilance as you walk to your destination.

If you have any ideas for parking lot etiquette, please free to drop us a comment below or contact us through email [email protected].

Not an NMA Member yet?

Join today and get these great benefits!

Leave a Comment