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


Driving’s free-for-all

Why is it that automobile parking lots become “free-for-alls?”  Since most of them are private property, laws limit citations issued to scofflaws thereon to reckless or drunken driving.  It’s too bad the citable infraction list can’t be widened a bit to include inconsiderateness — or at least speeding.  Maybe that’s why parking lots breed a lack of order and decorum.

In just one visit to a big retailer’s lot yesterday, I endured plenty of unsafe and annoying behavior.  First, I encountered a vehicle making its perpendicular cross in front of me at an unduly high speed.  Whose “lane” takes precedence at those parking lot criss-crossings? Today, the right of went to the speeding driver since his speed prevented him from yielding to anyone else.  If my speed had matched his we would have collided.  With no rules of the road governing parking lot driving, please keep speed at a minimum so as to allow a give-and-take approach to right-of-way.

Speaking of speed, some parking lot drivers use too much 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 jackrabbit takeoff backing out of their spot.  I’m aware that pedestrians need to avoid vehicles in parking lots, but as soon as the backup lights lit on this rig, it was off to the races.  Perform backing maneuvers with care — especially with a tall vehicle that obscures the sighting of short people such as children.

While walking back to my car, I witnessed some further mayhem.  With post-covid crowds jockeying for spots, an oblivious driver delayed his departure while two drivers waited for his spot — the same 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 I pondered as I walked.

The first question remained mainly unanswered.  The driver looked physically capable, and when he finally started his car it ran just fine.  Maybe some front seat cargo adjustment was mandatory before takeoff.  I suspect that he was simply unaware or uncaring.

In the meantime, traffic backed up behind the waiting vehicles.  Fortunately, women operated those vehicles.  Otherwise, there may have been a testosterone-fueled skirmish as both waiters gassed it toward the spot.  Instead, there was just a horn blast from one of the vehicles vying for the space and the other simply drove off to seek a different spot.

I saw those things in just a few minutes.  A full day of activity there must be filled with peril and other difficulties.  How often do drivers use turn signals to show their intentions while in parking lots?  Seldom.  When do drivers park in a helter-skelter fashion outside of the painted lines?  Often.  It seems to me that signaling your turning intentions is helpful to pedestrians and other vehicle drivers around you in parking lots.  And it seems evident that the lines are to park within. 

I’ve run out of allotted 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 it when we are driving in parking lots.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at


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