When you first learn how to drive, you may think that driving in parking lots is a relaxing reprieve from the road. What you eventually learn is that maneuvering the tight spaces and putting up with the ignorant driving habits of those around you in a parking lot can be just as difficult as any other driving experience.
A scratched parked car is just one of the things that can happen when you are driving in a parking lot. You also need to make sure that you protect yourself as a pedestrian. Kids are sometimes too small to be seen by other drivers in a parking lot and they can be backed into, leading to sometimes fatal results.
We’ll talk about all of the various parking lot hazards that we put up with every time we go somewhere, and how we can improve our driving skills to overcome these issues. We’ll also talk about whether your car insurance can protect you from some of these problems when they occur.
#1 – People Who Open Their Door Into You
When you park in any lot, you should always go out of your way to find a spot that has nobody else parked adjacent to you. This isn’t always possible depending on how big the lot is and how popular the business is that you are going into, but you should circle the lot and try to find one of these spots before giving up.
When you go out of your way to park next to someone else, you are putting your vehicle at risk of getting hit by another car’s door. Many people don’t care if they swing their door into yours when they get out, especially if the lot is full of narrow parking spots.
When someone opens their door to your car, they might inadvertently scratch or dent your vehicle. This is always frustrating because the person who committed the vandalism often leaves without notice. This is considered a hit-and-run by your insurance company, and it’s hard to make a successful claim during these circumstances.
You will need to have collision insurance to ever file a claim after a scratch or dent that is inflicted in a parking lot. You should consider your deductible before doing this, though. If the price of your deductible is larger than the price to fix your damage, don’t go through your insurance company. Pay out-of-pocket to get your car fixed in this scenario.
#2 – Children Walking Behind Your Car
Parents are often concerned about how to teach their teens how to drive, but they forget that there are a lot of safety procedures to teach their children before adolescence. One of the most important things you need to do is hold your child’s hand and walk with them through parking lots to prevent them from wandering off.
When kids go on their own through a parking lot, they might walk too close to cars in parking spots. If a child is small enough, the driver might not see the child behind them and back over them when they leave their spot. This could result in devastating injuries that are potentially fatal.
Talk to your kids about being aware of their surroundings and location in a parking lot. This advice goes a long way when it comes to playing in the front yard, too. Kids sometimes forget about the traffic in their own neighborhood when they are chasing a loose soccer ball or playing tag with their friends.
Parking lots are an obstacle course for children, and parents need to avert all danger by never leaving them alone to get lost in it.
#3 – Speed Bumps and Potholes
Many businesses decide to install speed bumps in their parking lots if speeding becomes an issue with drivers in the area. This is supposed to increase safety, but it can actually make things worse if drivers don’t change their habits when they see the bumps. Driving over these obstacles at high speeds can ruin the shock absorbers and the suspension of your vehicle.
Another bad fallout from this happening is that your insurance company is not likely going to fix these issues on your car because you caused them by driving too fast. When you see that there is a speed bump in a parking lot, train yourself to go slower. This will make your overall driving habits better in all parking lots.
Potholes can do similar damage to your car, and even damage other things like your tires. Older businesses that don’t have the money to take care of their parking lots might have damaged pavement and potholes that you need to avoid. Drive slow and be aware of your surroundings in older parking lots to prevent damage.
#4 – Faint Parking Lines
Another aspect of old and rundown parking lots is the lack of clear painted lines indicating where you can park your car. This can make it difficult to park your car safely, and others may intrude on your space when they also can’t see the lines.
Try your best to respect others’ space when the lines are hard to see and don’t engage in road rage if you feel someone has parked too close to you. It might just be a matter of them not being able to identify where they are parked
Talk to the business about repainting the lines and tell them how hard it is to park your car in their lot. It may not be a priority for them, or they may not have the money to repaint the lot, but it’s worth a try to let them know. This will keep everyone, including you, safer when you are in their parking lot.
The most important thing you can do in parking lots is to not take them for granted. Many people don’t even think about some of the dangerous things that happen in these areas, and being safe is simply a matter of being aware.
If you have trouble maneuvering around parking lots, think about taking a defensive driving school course. These classes will give you tips on every aspect of the driving experience, even parking.
Skills like backing out of a spot, parallel parking, and many other things will be covered in the course. Be receptive to learning about parking lot driving and you should be safe.
Shawn Laib writes and researches for the auto insurance site, BuyAutoInsurance.com. He wants to help people understand how to stay safer when driving in parking lots.