A 79-year-old passenger in a car equipped with secondary controls for steering, brakes and acceleration (like those found in a driving school car) was killed on November 20th. The car, driven by his wife struck a cement pillar in their condo complex’s parking garage. Newspaper reports quote the driver as saying that she was unable to stop the car because of the secondary controls. The exact details were unknown and investigations were still underway when it was reported in the media.
Another parking lot accident occurred some months ago in West Vancouver. A pedestrian was crushed between two cars, one being driven by a woman with a broken leg. The newspaper report indicated that the driver’s leg accidentally jammed on the accelerator sending her car at high speed into the second car. The pedestrian was seriously injured.
As we enter the Christmas shopping season, many of us spend much more time navigating in busy parking lots. These unusual stories remind us that parking lot driving poses many challenges. From time to time there will be drivers who lose control of their vehicles with little or no room to recover. Extra alertness and courtesy are the challenges.
Drive safely in parking lots by driving slowly and using the turn signals. Obey the traffic signs such as Stop and Yield. Drive in the designated traffic lanes, avoid cutting diagonally across the lot and be careful to watch out for other drivers who are cutting corners by driving diagonally across the lot. Talk on the cell phone while safely parked, not while searching for a parking spot or leaving the parking lot.
Use mirrors and also turn around as much as possible to look out the back window when backing up. More cars mean more pedestrians, many of whom are short people, including excited children on their way to Christmas activities, darting and running in all directions. Check twice to be doubly certain that the way behind you is completely clear. Tap the horn before moving.
Also, watch out for waiting cars, and the cars beside and behind you who may be attempting to back out at the same time. If possible, to avoid having to back up, take the bit of extra time and effort required to back in to the stall. Your exit will be easier and quicker. Parking lots that disallow this usually have clear signage to this effect.
Peace and harmony are popular themes at this time of year. Let this cover the parking lots of the shopping malls of our cities. Be courteous. Stop racing for a spot. Don’t stop or park where the signage says not to. Don’t park in a handicapped spot, if you are not so designated. Park carefully—taking care to position your vehicle in the middle of the parking space— so that the spaces beside you can function as such when they are freed up.
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