Parking lots can be wild places. There is a lot of traffic moving in various ways, cars in both forward and reverse, numerous pedestrians and often small children, too. Taking care to make safety a priority and respecting the etiquette rules of parking can make it a safer and more courteous place for everyone.
Park Between the Lines
Sometimes getting into a space can be awkward but if you are uneven, take a moment to straighten out so that your fellow drivers are able to get into and out of spaces (and their own vehicles) safely.
Kindly mind your speed. Parking lots are busy spaces and our speed should reflect this. Obey the sign posted limit and if there is none, the given rule is a maximum of 15mph in a parking lot. The most common parking lot incident is between cars backing out of spaces and cars driving down the aisle. Slower speeds protect against fender benders and keep pedestrians safe.
Handicapped Parking Spots
This is my most important parking etiquette tip of all! On a recent visit to Starbucks, I watched not one but TWO different people pull into the handicapped parking spot and run inside for their order within the span of drinking my cup of coffee. Neither car had a placard or identifying license plate, and there were no passengers in the vehicles. To say I was appalled is an understatement!
This should go without saying but never, and I mean never, park in a handicapped parking spot if you are not handicapped. I would also say that if you have a handicapped passenger who will not be getting out of the car, you are not eligible to use the space either.
Another note regarding handicapped spots, often people will park partially in the diagonal lines of a handicapped parking place thinking there is extra room there. This is NOT the case. This area with the diagonal lines is specifically designed for wheelchair ramps. If you park in these and a person with a wheelchair returns to their car, they will not be able to get inside it. Always park within the lines to leave the appropriate amount of space.
Use Your Turn Signals
This goes for any time you are on the road (I am looking at you, Floridians!), but is especially helpful in parking lots. Not only does your indicator help other drivers know where you are going or parking, but it also helps pedestrians.
Drive in the Correct Direction
Going the wrong way down an angled aisle is very unsafe as you are at odds with the vantage point of anyone backing out. Follow the arrows in the parking lot with care.
Do Not Park in Reserved Spaces
A friend of mine lives in a complex near a very busy area and has to regularly have cars towed from her assigned parking space. In fact, on numerous occasions, she has had a car towed, gone to retrieve her vehicle from street parking, and returned only to find a new car has taken its place. This is despite the space having a clear signpost with her name.
This woman lives in a parking impacted area and pays for her space. She should be able to park when she returns home. It is important to respect rules when they are given. If the space is reserved, find another (and avoid an unpleasant towing fee in the process!)
This also goes for spots that are designated for certain types of cars, such as Electric Vehicles. If your car is not electric, the spot is not available.
Respect the Order of Arrival
In a busy parking lot, the person who was waiting gets the spot. Hopefully, they have used their turn signal to indicate this.
Avoid Unnecessary Traffic Jams
When dropping off someone who is “just running in,” do not wait at the curb for them. This impedes the flow of traffic and makes people move around you. Plus, it can affect visibility for pedestrians who cannot see the incoming traffic moving around your vehicle. Simply take a lap around the lot and return when your passenger does.
Always, always return your shopping cart to the designated area. Even if this means going all the way back to the storefront. Returning your cart is a common courtesy that protects other vehicles and respects the store employees. And remember, pushing the cart up onto the curb does not count!
We hope you found these parking etiquette tips helpful! Are you interested in learning more about etiquette? Would you like to host a Business Etiquette seminar as part of a team-building, seminar, or employee training program? Get in touch to learn more about Lisa’s etiquette offerings.