How Safe Are Pedestrians In Local Parking Lots?
With the continued migration of populations to urban environments and the ongoing growth of suburbia in the U.S., people are congregating in more dense locations than ever before in history.
As populations continue to grow in dense urban locations, pedestrians will be exposed to dangers of vehicles in parking lots. Studies show that about one in four pedestrian-related accidents occurs in parking lots.
Many of these incidents occur in grocery stores, apartment complexes, and other parking lots
Based on a recent ITE study of 480 pedestrian-related crashes in parking lots, 73% of these incidents occurred in retail locations. Shopping centers had the highest number of incidents where pedestrians were injured. Following closely to shopping centers were big box stores and grocery stores.
Key Engineering Factors To Improve Parking Lot Safety
90-Degree Two-Way Parking Aisles
Many parking lots leverage an angled one-way parking aisle design to help guide traffic patterns and reduce the chances of head-on vehicle crashes. However, this type of parking lot aisle design makes each aisle narrower than the 90-degree two-way parking aisle design.
The narrow aisle width of angled parking aisle means that pedestrians have less time to react to vehicles backing up. While 90-degree parking aisles reduce traffic conflicts, this improved efficiency causes drivers to drive at higher speeds compared to 90-degree two-way parking aisles.
Improved Building Frontage Roads
Building Frontage Roads are the main roads that connect city streets to the parking structure location.
Placing speed controlling devices like speed bumps and pedestrian crossing signs is necessary to ensure that drivers are warned of pedestrian presence. This is especially important in grocery and retail store parking lots.
Building Frontage Roads should not be built too side, because on frontage roads where drivers have extra room can result in cars parking in this area. As a result, pedestrian and driver visibility is obstructed by parked cars.
Raised Islands At The End Of Parking Rows
Some parking lots featured either a stripped end island, while others have a built island at the end of parking rows. Since striped end islands don’t do an adequate job to prevent drivers from illegally parking in this area, many parking lots are adopting a raised island feature.
A raised island does a better job of preventing drivers from illegally parking in these areas.
Since fewer cars are parked at the end of parking rows, pedestrians and drivers have improved visibility and fewer distractions. This results in slower driving speeds and improved safety for everyone in the immediate environment.
A well-designed parking lot isn’t only a place where vehicles are parked, but it should also ensure the safety of the pedestrians as well as the environment. Unfortunately, not all parking lots meet this standard, and this is the usual cause of accidents.
To avoid that, it’s imperative for parking lot operators to take the necessary measures to improve safety, and here’s how.
Additional Parking Lot Engineering Recommendations
Public officials can take other steps to improve the safety of their city’s parking lots. One way that officials can ensure the safety of both drivers and pedestrians is to locate parking lots behind buildings.
This makes the journey for pedestrians to reach the main entrance safer compared to having to interact with many vehicles towards the front of the building.
Public officials should also enhance parking lot safety by installing speed bumps in areas where vehicles need to maintain a slow speed.
Construction areas should also be marked with traffic safety cones to reduce driver distraction and confusion in areas where extra equipment or personnel will be present.
Other traffic calming devices like pedestrian crosswalk signs should be placed to help drivers and pedestrians interact safely. In these areas, stores should have extra lighting and keep the area well lit during evening hours.
Pedestrian Parking Lot Safety Tips
Pedestrians play a crucial role to ensure their safety when walking in a parking lot, and by following a few basic safety tips, they can provide their safe passage no matter the time of day or parking lot location.
Staying alert is perhaps the most important part of walking in a parking lot safely. Whether a pedestrian is crossing in front of a grocery store or retail shop, they should put their mobile devices away and maintain attentive visual and auditory attention to their local environment.
Understanding where blind spots are around the parking lot are also important and can keep pedestrians safe as they pass through a parking lot.
If there is a vehicle illegally parked on the frontage roads, walkers should take extra caution to ensure oncoming traffic can see them as they look to cross the street. The same is true in parking aisles, as pedestrians are often injured when vehicles backing up strike them.
Walking in main parking aisles is often the safest place for pedestrians because walking between cars can cause unintended injuries.
Pedestrians should also treat parking lots like streets by following standard safety procedures like stop before crossing parking aisles and looking both ways before moving forward.
Driver Parking Lot Safety Tips
Ongoing safety in parking lots requires attention from both pedestrians and drivers. Vehicle drivers should pay careful attention to their surroundings in a parking lot because if they strike a pedestrian not only can they injure the walker, the driver could also face legal issues.
The first way drivers can reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians in parking lots is to stay off of frontage roads in front of stores, and try to keep to less traveled routes. Along with reducing traffic in front of stores, drivers can also park as far away from the building as possible. These tips will minimize contact with pedestrians.
Drivers should reduce their speed to under 10 MPH, and this speed should be reduced even more in the case of heavy rain, snow, or when ice is on the roads. Impaired visibility should also cause drivers to reduce their speed because slower speeds will provide pedestrians with more time to react to unexpected situations in parking lots.
When backing out of parking spots, drivers should take extra time to observe their surroundings. Since vehicles backing out of parking spots injure most pedestrians, drivers should always look for pedestrians as they enter a parking aisle.
Keeping Pedestrians Safe In U.S. Parking Lots
Parking lot pedestrian safety becomes even more critical as the U.S. population and economy continues to grow. Reducing the number of pedestrian-related injuries in parking lots will mean that citizens will be able to reach their destination safely.
Using proven methods to promote awareness and caution in public parking lots will ensure the future success of the U.S. economy and continued growth!