You’re not safe in a parking lot or parking garage. We like to think we’re safe when we get out of the car, but the truth is far more insidious. You’re still on the road with cars and other pedestrians, not all of which are harmless. The only difference is that now you’re not in the car for protection. Problems arise when people stop paying attention because they believe they’re safe and sound between their car and wherever they’re going. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself as a driver, as a pedestrian, and from predators.
As A Driver
Never text and drive! If you are behind the wheel of a car, do not get on your cell phone at all. When we say not to text and drive, that means doing anything on your phone that isn’t hands-free. Even in a parking lot, it’s dangerous to text and drive. People are walking around, cars with low visibility are trying to pull out, and you never know when a child is going to dart out from behind a car. Even in a parking lot, that text could kill someone.
There’s no reason to go quickly when you’re in a parking lot or garage. Getting to a parking space just a moment faster is not worth the risk to everyone around you. Think everything is slow right now? How slow are you going to be while having to work out a fender bender? Going slowly isn’t just for your safety, it’s for everyone else around you. You are not the only person in the parking lot, and driving slowly is to protect everyone around you as much as yourself. Be considerate, and protect the people around you. Nothing will slow down your day more than an accident, and you don’t want to live with having killed someone over a parking space.
As a driver, you should always be attentive. You shouldn’t be driving tired, distracted, or otherwise impaired. If you’re listening to loud music and can’t hear the world around you, turn it down. If you’re busy trying to get the kids to calm down in the backseat, stop the car (Out of the way). Don’t daydream. This one can be especially hard when you’re in a slow-moving environment. It’s often too easy to find yourself drifting behind the wheel and then you hit someone. This is dangerous to the people around you and even dangerous to yourself. Distracted driving is dangerous driving, and parking lots/garages aren’t a place to take it easy and relax. If anything, you should be more alert because there are pedestrians around. A pedestrian is particularly vulnerable to a distracted driver. Don’t be the reason for someone being injured, or worse.
You’re in a 4,000-pound machine that won’t be stopped by a person. You can kill people with your car and it should be treated as such. There are rules and expectations. The best thing you can do for everyone around you is to be predictable. If you’re following the rules and doing what you’re supposed to do, the people and cars around you can plan accordingly, and won’t be caught by surprise. If you behave in a manner that can’t be predicted then it’s more likely someone doesn’t behave how you expect them to behave. This is what leads to accidents and incidents. Don’t worry about being courteous or polite, others can’t predict it and that makes you dangerous. Just be predictable. Also, be sure to use your signals so that your intentions are obvious.
Be Ready to Stop Suddenly
More than almost anywhere else, you’re going to be driving alongside pedestrians in a parking lot/garage. People won’t always behave in a manner you can expect. They might suddenly change direction, not realize you’re there, or do something else that could endanger themselves. If there are children there’s an additional layer you can’t predict. They’re smaller, harder to see, and more likely to not be paying attention. A child could suddenly come out from between two parked cars, literally running across the road. If you’re not ready to stop, lives could be changed forever.
As A Pedestrian
Keep Your Head up
The worst thing you can look at while you’re walking through a parking lot is your phone. The second worst thing you can watch is the pavement. You need to keep your head up at all times while walking across the parking lot. This is to keep you safe. There are drivers and other pedestrians all trying to get to different places. When you take yourself out of the equation you’re putting your safety in the hands of strangers. They now get to decide if you live or die. What if they’re distracted too? Then it becomes little more than a matter of chance. Keep your head up, and pay attention to your surroundings.
Use Pedestrian Paths
As a pedestrian, keep in mind that you’re still in space for cars. You’re still on the road. Walking in the road and other spaces intended for cars puts you at a greater risk of being struck. This is especially true if there are designated areas and pathways for pedestrians that you’re ignoring (Intentionally or not). Cars expect to find people in those spaces. They have a responsibility to not hit you, the same way you have a responsibility to minimize the chance of that happening.
Reverse Lights Matter
Coming back around to paying attention, keep an eye on reverse lights when walking behind cars. If you see reverse lights turn on, wait for the car to back out. In the parking lot, you have to remember that drivers have limited visibility when backing out of space. If you aren’t paying attention to the reverse lights the driver may pull out and accidentally hit you. Who knows how fast they’ll pull out? It’s much easier for you to see the lights and adjust than it is for the drivers to adjust around you.
Be Courteous to Cars
Cars are lumbering machines, not agile and quick. If someone has to make a fast adjustment it’s easier for the person than it would be for the car. Just understand that they own the space unless you’re in a pedestrian area. Be sure to not be in the way, stick to the side of the road, and you’ll be much safer than you would be otherwise. Not only is it safer, but you’re also less likely to cause traffic problems if you make sure the cars around you are free to move around.
Keep Your Kids Close
Children are especially at risk in a parking lot/garage. They’re smaller, more likely to be unpredictable, and harder to see for drivers. Keeping them safe in a parking lot is a task unto itself for a parent. The best thing you can do is have them hold your hand while you’re crossing the parking lot and in high traffic areas. This will prevent them from running ahead and putting themselves at risk. Sometimes this isn’t tenable. If you’re shopping it might be best to have your kids in the cart. Another option is to have them hold on to you. There are many methods you can take advantage of, and one of them will work best for your family.
Safety From Predators
Sadly, some people are predators who will wait around in parking lots and garages. This is usually after dark, when you’re alone, and when you’re distracted. Any altercation with this type of person could end badly and they’re hunting for prey. Predators look for people who appear weak, and the distracted are weak. This is especially true for women, who are more often targeted by muggers and rapists than men. If you appear alert, and aren’t distracted by your phone, music or otherwise impaired, it’s more likely they’ll ignore you. Staying alert also extends to understanding if you’re in a dangerous part of town. There’s no reason to be paranoid. You should always be alert.
Trust Your Gut
We’ve all had that feeling, like we’re being watched, or that something just wasn’t right. Trust that feeling. You might not know why something seems off, and you could be wrong… but if you’re right it could save your life. Living and being safe is better than looking strange, or asking that someone escort you to your car. Often, parking garages will have security guards that can help you if you feel unsafe. Don’t take a chance. If something feels off trust that feeling, and be safe.
It’s better to have protection and not need it than to need it and not have it. You never want to have to use protection, but there might be a time when you have no other choice. Again, women are at higher risk, and as such, need protection more than their male counterparts. One of the best forms of protection you can keep is a can of pepper spray. They’re small, effective, and legal in almost all buildings. Keep in mind, minors and felons aren’t legally allowed to purchase pepper spray. To get an overview of the laws with your state check out this resource. There are of course other ways to protect yourself. Martial arts can be a great life skill that could save your life. Even a concealed handgun is an option. There are a lot of laws in California regarding weapons. This resource can help if you have more questions about the laws surrounding gun ownership for your state.
If you’re parked in a parking garage it’s best if you avoid internal stairwells. Even external ones can be a haven for predators that are stalking, mugging or even have the intention to rape someone. Stairwells are quiet, isolated, and there’s only one way to go. It’s very easy to be vulnerable if you’re in a stairwell, or even in an elevator in some places. Keep an eye on your surroundings, and don’t spend any more time in a dangerous place than is necessary.
Ask A Security Guard For Help
If you feel unsafe, get someone to help you out. Most malls, parking garages, and some stores will have security guards on site. They can help you feel safer by escorting you to your car. This will greatly reduce the risk to you from predators, or people looking to do you harm. Security guards are always happy to help you feel safe. Escorting you is not an inconvenience or a burden, it’s part of the job description.
You should be safe wherever you go. Parking lots/garages are dangerous places. You have to worry about the cars, the people, the drivers, and others that might be there to do you harm. With these tips, you can stay safe. If you’re a business and want to promote a safer environment for your parking lot/garage consider contracting with a security guard company in the Bay Area. If you’re not in the Bay Area there are numerous security guard services in Los Angeles and San Francisco. They can provide you the guard necessary to ensure a safe parking lot or garage. Patrols can either walk or drive around the premises, keeping everyone safe. They make sure traffic laws are followed, stop people from behaving recklessly, and are an excellent deterrent to criminal activity.
Categorised in: BlogFebruary 13, 2020 7:57 pm