POWER OF DATA BLOG

Fleet Safety: Danger in the Parking Lot

Changing Driver Behavior
Oct 28/2016 Published by:

You may be surprised to learn that more vehicle incidents occur per mile driven in parking lots than on public roadways. Often these are low speed incidents involving backing or impact with fixed objects. The repair cost is typically relatively low and the events often go unreported, but the frequency is high. Parking lot and parking related collisions may represent twenty-five to fifty percent of a fleet’s collision total.

There are several reasons so many incidents occur in parking lots. Here are a few:

  • Drivers understand the risks are high while on the roadway, but few recognize risks remain high once off the roadway. Many drivers drop their guard and become less vigilant once they turn off the street and into a parking lot.
  • Upon entering the lot, drivers are usually focused on seeking a parking spot…not looking for other drivers and objects.
  • Most drivers pull “head in” into a parking spot. Once in this position, they must then back out. The natural blind areas behind most vehicles, combined with vision obstruction due to vehicles parked alongside, make visibility very difficult.
  • Traffic laws are non-existent. Most parking lots are private property. Hence, drivers often roll through stop signs, travel against the directional arrows or cut between parked cars. Vehicles can be coming from any direction…any time.

Putting all this together, it’s clear the danger doesn’t end once you reach the parking lot.

Some basic tips can be easily applied to keep you out of trouble in this high risk environment:

  • When possible, avoid backing. Consider a space one or two rows away that will allow you to pull through to the front of a parking stall. Most drivers seek the closest spot to their destination. This usually results in a head-in parking spot and also places us where there is the most activity. There may be a “pull-through” spot just a few feet farther away that will allow you to avoid backing and place you away from the activity.
  • If you are backing, it’s always a good idea to get out and take a look. If you have a passenger, ask him to get out and guide you. Nothing irks a safety director more than when a driver backs into something and there was a passenger who didn’t get out to assist with the backing maneuver.
  • Move very slowly. There are simply too many people, vehicles and objects to identify and respond to. Slow speed buys the time we need to safely see, think and do. The majority of drivers back or travel through parking lots too fast. This compromises your time to adequately scan and reduces the time other drivers and pedestrians have to react to your presence.
  • Get the big picture. Constantly scan front, rear and side to side. Many times motorists fail to see a threat coming from one direction because they are fixated on just one view.

Just about everyone’s had an accident in a parking lot and they are almost always preventable. It will never happen again if you apply the seeing and thinking skills we’ve described above.


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