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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Parking lot escapades

Why must parking lots often become free-for-alls?  We could reduce parking lot angst with more courtesy and a loose application of road rules, but that is wishful thinking.

Since most lots are private property, the only citations that can purportedly be issued to scofflaws thereon are for reckless or drunken driving.  Over the years, I believe, this has brought about a lax attitude by drivers.  It’s too bad the citable infraction list can’t be widened a bit to include inconsideration.

I witnessed and endured many examples of unsafe and annoying behavior in a single visit to a big retailer’s lot recently.

First, a vehicle made a perpendicular cross in front of me at an unduly high speed.  Who has right of way at these parking lot criss-crossings?  In this case, it was the speeding driver, since his speed prevented him from accommodating anyone else.  If my speed had matched his, we would have collided.  With no rules of the road governing parking lot driving, speed should be minimal so as to allow a give-and-take approach to right-of-way.

Speaking of speed, some parking lot drivers attain a great deal of it while backing out of their spaces.  I was reminded of this as I walked toward the store and had to jump out of the way of an SUV blasting out of their spot in reverse.  I realize that pedestrians need to look out for vehicles in parking lots, but as soon as the backup lights lit on this rig, it was off to the races.

While walking back to my car, I witnessed further mayhem.  With a chilly temperature and wind, spots close to the store were scarce and in demand.  While an oblivious driver tended to who knows what, two parties were waiting for his spot.  Why won’t the driver in the spot, in the interest of expediency, pick up his pace?  How will the waiting drivers resolve who gets the spot?  These were the questions on my mind as I walked past.

The first question remained mainly unanswered.  The driver looked physically capable, and when he finally started his car it ran just fine.  Evidently, there was some paperwork organization and some front seat cargo adjustment that was mandatory before takeoff.  I suspect that he was mainly unaware, or didn’t care.

In the meantime, traffic backed up behind the waiting vehicles.  Fortunately, women operated those vehicles.  Otherwise, there may have been an impending fistfight brought on by male testosterone, because when the occupying auto finally left, both waiters gassed it toward the spot.  Instead of a fight, there was just a horn blast from one of the vehicles vying for the space, and the other drove off to seek a different spot.

Those were the events I saw during just a few minutes in the lot.  A full day of activity at that location must be fraught with peril.

How often do drivers use turn signals to show their intentions while in parking lots?  Rarely.  When do drivers park in a helter-skelter fashion outside of the painted lines?  Often.  Signaling your turning intention is helpful to pedestrians and other vehicle drivers within your close proximity.  It also seems evident that the lines are to park within.

I’ve run out of column space and haven’t even expounded on the parking lot woes of door dinging, wrong-way driving and misuse of disabled spots!

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at