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


Parking lot mayhem

A regular reader recently commented on supermarket parking lots.  He said that navigating one in a motor vehicle is like running a gauntlet of jaywalkers coming from all directions.  He thinks a better design using skywalks or better traffic routing should be considered.

I don’t have viable solutions, other than staying alert and going slowly, but I agree that the free-for-all aspect of most parking lots is inherently unsafe.  With improved decorum, we could reduce some of the parking lot angst.

Since most lots are private property, the only citations that can purportedly be issued to scofflaws thereon are for reckless or drunken driving.  It’s too bad the citable infraction list can’t be widened a bit to include inconsideration.

Only yesterday, I encountered a vehicle making a perpendicular cross in front of me at a remarkably high speed.  Whose driving aisle takes precedence at the random criss-crossings in a parking lot?  In yesterday’s case, it was the aisle of 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, one should move at minimum speed, allowing a give-and-take approach to right-of-way.

Speaking of speed, some parking lot drivers use plenty 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 making a jack rabbit takeoff out of their spot in reverse.  I realize that pedestrians need to yield to vehicles in parking lots for self-preservation, but as soon as the backup lights lit on this rig it was off to the races.  Backing maneuvers should be made with great care — especially with a tall vehicle that obscures the sighting of short people such as children.

Besides what I witnessed yesterday, there are many other safety issues associated with parking lots.  Once again, city, county, or state police can’t establish a presence or enforce much on private property lots, unless the property owner files charges.  Over the years, I believe, this has brought about a lax attitude by drivers.

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.  It seems to me that signaling which way you are about to turn can be helpful to pedestrians and drivers within your close proximity in parking lots.  It’s also evident that the lines are guides for parking and that those lines will accommodate most vehicles — why not park within them?

I’m not sure how many unauthorized vehicles sneak into designated disabled spots, but I’ll bet that those authorized to use them have seen a few.  Maybe most drivers with no permit stay out of these spaces, but I believe that often the person using a car with a permit is not the party to which the permit was issued.  Either that, or there are a lot of young, spry people who are given permits.

I’ve run out of space, and haven’t even expounded on door dinging and wrong-way driving.  There is enough lack of common sense by drivers in general on roadways — we don’t need to employ even less of such sense when we are driving in parking lots.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at