When you’re driving and finally reach your destination, it’s natural to let your guard down — but keeping safe in a parking lot or parking garage is critical. We’ve compiled some parking lot safety tips to help you, your passengers, your car, and your belongings stay safe when you park your vehicle.
How to stay safe while driving in a parking lot
Don’t text and park
The hazards of texting while driving is well documented. Just because you’ve reached the parking lot, it doesn’t mean you should pull your phone out of your pocket before finding a spot. According to the National Safety Council, more than half of all drivers say they’d make a phone call or text while driving through a parking lot. But parking lots are full of moving cars and people, and you need to be aware of your surroundings.
The traffic speed in a parking lot or parking garage is much slower than on the road. You may be in a hurry to park your car to get where you’re going, but if you’re moving too fast, you increase the likelihood of causing an accident with another vehicle or a pedestrian. It’s also important to take your time if you’re driving in wintry conditions — parking lots may not be properly cleared of snow and ice, even if surrounding streets have been.
Obey signs and markings
We’ve all been tempted to go one way in a parking lot when the arrow points the other way, particularly if there’s a nearby parking spot or a shorter route to the exit. However, these directions are in place for a reason. You may not have time to react to someone driving the correct way, even if they aren’t speeding. Likewise, if you cut across parking spaces instead of following the flow of traffic, you risk colliding with a vehicle or pedestrian who isn’t expecting you to be there.
Stay focused and alert
Even if you’re being careful while driving in a parking garage or parking lot, you can’t assume everyone else is exercising the same care. Be prepared for a vehicle to lurch or for a person to walk into your path. Children often dart in front of and behind vehicles, so paying attention to your surroundings is crucial. Likewise, you shouldn’t take anything for granted when backing out of a spot — while a backup camera can be a great help for seeing what’s behind you, verify with a head check, too.
How to keep yourself safe in a parking lot
Choose your spot thoughtfully
You won’t always have the luxury of picking the perfect parking stall, especially when ramps and lots are busy. But when you have options, keep these considerations in mind:
- Choose a well-lit spot or one under a light. The brighter your parking space is, the less likely someone might try to break into your vehicle.
- Pick a spot close to the main entrance of where you’re going. Secondary or side doors might not have as much foot traffic and could be locked later in the day. Using the main entrance is usually more secure.
- Keep valuables out of sight. If you aren’t taking something with you, don’t make it a target of thieves – make sure you are protecting your car from theft– place items in the trunk, under the seats, or a blanket. And remember to lock the doors.
Be a safe pedestrian
Maximize your visibility to drivers by using main walkways and not weaving between parked cars. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by your phone or music playing in your earbuds. And remember that you can’t rely on hearing a car coming at you — electric vehicles are much quieter and might surprise you if you’re not paying attention.
Look before you leave
Walk around your car before you pull out to check for any obstructions or items you might have dropped on your way inside. You can also do a quick inspection to check for door dings from neighboring vehicles. Learn about how car insurance covers scratches and dents.
Even though you aren’t in your car when you’ve parked it in a parking lot or parking garage, it could still be involved in an accident. Find out what to do when someone hits your parked car.