Five Rules for Parking Lot Etiquette

By Connor Adkins, Guest Columnist

The parking lot: a verified concrete jungle of madness, where all the rules go out the window. In reality, the rules of parking lots are pretty common sense, even if they aren’t written in an official handbook. Here are five common-sense rules that most drivers need to be reminded of.

Drive in the Right Direction
People seem to think that as soon as you enter a parking lot, normal driving rules do not apply anymore. Who cares if you just drive the opposite way down the aisle? Actually, I care, and so does every other driver in the parking lot.

Every parking lot is slightly different—some have one-way aisles, some have two-way. You just have to pay attention. There will most likely be arrows pointing in the correct driving direction. Here’s a hint: follow the arrow, and drive in the same direction it is pointing.

If there is no arrow, look at the way the parking stalls are situated. If they are perpendicular to the driving aisle, it’s most likely a two-way road. If they are slanted diagonally, take a second to look again. Diagonal spaces are a good indication of the flow of traffic. If the stalls on both sides of the aisle point inward, it’s a one-way road. You should drive in the direction where you could easily pull in to a stall.

Use Turn Signals
Just as blinkers are helpful in the “real world,” using turn signals in a parking lot could actually save your life—or at least your parking space. Blinkers are there for a reason: to show others the intended direction of your vehicle. Want to pull into an empty spot, but cars are behind you? Put on your blinker. Want to turn into an aisle from the main parking corridor (you know, the one in front of the store with all the pedestrians milling around)? Put on your blinker. Not only do you protect other cars, but you can also signal to pedestrians so they can be safe walking through the concrete and metal jungle.

There is a lot of debate about whether putting on your blinker will reserve a parking spot. Picture the scenario: two cars drive opposite directions up an aisle (obviously it’s a two-way aisle with perpendicular stalls). They both see a car with the reverse lights lit, ready to empty a spot. Who gets the spot? Survey says: whoever puts their blinker on to claim the spot. But it just takes a little common sense. If you pull up to a spot, and you see another car waiting for it before you, it’s obviously that car’s spot. Be nice and back off.

Don’t Wait
Don’t wait for people to walk to their car, load all their belongings, get in, turn the ignition, and pull out of the parking spot. You are causing an unnecessary traffic jam. It will probably take less time if you just park farther away and walk the extra distance. Waiting for drivers to return to their cars is frustrating to other drivers and causes hold-ups throughout the lot, not just in your immediate area.

In a related vein, don’t pull up to the curb to wait for someone to “run a quick errand” or grab a Redbox. It is never going to be a fast errand. Instead, you are blocking the way for other drivers, as well as confusing drivers and passengers alike. Pull into an empty space, preferably toward the far end of the lot, to wait for your passenger—they can call and ask you to pick them up when they’re really done.

Park Courteously
We’ve all seen drivers who think their cars are too good for one parking space, so they take up a few—just to make sure we all see their nice ride. Be courteous in the parking lot, and follow the lines. Park in the center of the space to allow cars on both sides to park, and the drivers to get out of their cars safely. There is no shame in having to readjust once you pull into a stall. Other drivers will thank you for it later, when they can pull into a space without cringing.

Beware if you have a long vehicle, like an extended truck or a big passenger van. Make sure you pull your car all the way into the spot, or choose a location further away from other cars. If you have a motorcycle or mini car (like a Smart Car or Mini Cooper), align the back bumper of your car with the bumpers of the surrounding cars. Doing this will help other drivers avoid the sinking heartache you feel when you think there is an open space, only to realize a tiny car is wedged in the top corner.

Obey Speed Limits
Again—the same rules apply in the parking lot as they do on the roads. Speed limits are included in this. Most large parking lots have posted speed limit signs, but if there isn’t one posted, keep it to 15 mph, maximum. There really isn’t a reason, though, to be pushing the limit. Parking lots are full of pedestrians, especially little ones. You should be on full alert, which usually means a lower speed.

Slower speeds will also help to protect against fender benders. The most common accident in a parking lot is between a car backing out of a space, and a car driving down the aisle. If you are driving slowly, you are less likely to have to call your insurance company because you were caught in the bumper by a car who didn’t see you while they were backing out.

Parking lots can be a driver’s worst nightmare, but they don’t have to end in so many accidents. If you learn and practice these five  rules, you will probably be the most mannerly driver in the parking lot. Just think what it will be like when everyone follows them… Paradise.

Connor Adkins enjoys helping people stay fit and healthy. He enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. Connor also has a passion for anything to do with cars, from insurance quotes with Anthony Clark Insurance, or finding the coolest rims on the market.

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