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Focusing on safety goes beyond managing driver behavior on the roads. Fleets with the best safety records start by establishing safety standards in their corporate culture and then they ensure those behaviors continue from the roads and into car parks. For fleets and personal drivers, safety behavior in parking lots is often ignored, but more than 50,000 crashes happen in parking garages/lots and those crashes result in 500 or more deaths every year (EHS). Prioritizing safe behavior when parking can lead to fewer accidents, reduced costs (whether you own a fleet of vehicles or a personal vehicle), and can help prevent injury and death.
The NHTSA passed a new rule in 2018 that requires vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds to have rear view cameras. The rule aims to prevent backover crashes that often involve children and elderly pedestrians and occur most often in parking lots and at the end of driveways. An estimated 267 people are killed and 15,000 injured each year by drivers who back into them. The rule states that vehicles required to have rear view camera must have the following:
- The field of view must include a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle
- The view must display specific portions of seven 32-inch-tall cylinders placed along the perimeter of that zone.
- The rule also specifies requirements for image size, default view and other characteristics.
Benefits of reverse parking
Since many of these accidents discussed above occur when drivers are backing out of a parking space or driveway, reverse parking is a safer approach to take. Reverse parking is when you back into a parking spot instead of pulling in head first. The reason reverse parking is safer is because it prevents drivers from having to blind back out of a parking spot and into pedestrian traffic. When backing out of a parking space, there are countless blind spots from other vehicles around you and limited ability to use your mirrors. With reverse parking, the risk of hitting someone that you can’t see is reduced.
How to reverse park
Reverse parking is simpler than it seems. Below are brief instructions on how to reverse park safely:
- Find your empty parking spot.
- Drive in front of the parking spot so that your rear bumper is slightly in front of the space.
- Use your turn signal or emergency flashers to alert other drivers of your intentions.
- Check for other vehicles in front of you and behind you, check all of your mirrors and surroundings for pedestrians.
- Shift your vehicle into reverse and start turning your steering wheel to the right as you slowly accelerate.
- Straighten your steering wheel as your vehicle enters the parking space. Check your side mirrors as you turn and straighten to ensure you don’t hit any nearby cars.
- Once you are aligned in the space, straighten your steering wheel and back up until the front of your vehicle is aligned with the front of the parking spot.
- Shift into park.
Reverse parking does sometimes take one or two tries, so doing it safely the first time may take some practice.
Other tips for staying safe in parking lots
Aside from reverse parking, there are other ways to prevent accidents and injuries from happening in parking lots. Below are a few tips to stay safe:
- Use your side and rearview mirrors and/or cameras. An IIHS study found that rear cameras could help prevent backover crashes involving people in a vehicle’s blind zone. The study showed that cameras are more effective than parking sensors at helping drivers see and avoid a child-size object placed behind the vehicle. Drivers should always take advantage of the tools they have at their disposal, including their mirrors and reverse cameras.
- Slow down. Zipping through parking lots is likely to lead to incidents. Cars are backing into and out of parking spots, people are loading and unloading vehicles, and blind spots are everywhere. By slowing down, you increase your reaction time should something or someone unexpected come into your field of driving.
- Eliminate distractions. In 2017, 3,166 people were killed in distracted driving crashes, accounting for nine percent of all fatal crashes in the nation. Examples of distracted driving include using a cell phone or device, putting on makeup, having earbuds in, eating and more. Using cell phones and text messaging are particularly dangerous because it takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an extended period of time. Distracted driving in parking lots is particularly dangerous because you’re more likely to encounter distracted pedestrians as well.
- Parallel Parking. Another alternative to congested parking lots is finding a parallel parking space and bay parking area on the street that you can parallel park in. While reverse parallel parking is a common driving school test, it pays to check that your fleet drivers are operating safely in these busy street environments, with oncoming traffic and other motorists to contend with while completing complicated reverse parking maneuvers.
If you’re a fleet owner looking to improve parking safety and driver behavior, telematics software can help. Carriers can prevent accidents from occurring in car parks by implementing fleet dash cams and software that coaches better driving behavior.
- Fleet dash cams - smart video technology available to fleet managers today uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify the context and cause of incidents, including those that occur in parking lots or at loading docks. Sometimes drivers are forced into aggressive driving behaviors, like harsh braking, if they get cut off by an aggressive driver or if they encounter a distracted pedestrian. With smart fleet dash cams, the driver can defend themselves against false claims by demonstrating the context of their maneuver and fleet managers can use the footage to back them up. With smart video technology, it’s no longer necessary to sort through hours of footage looking for the incident, behaviors are analyzed automatically by the AI technology, categorized, and time/location stamped.
- Driver management programs - driver management software helps fleet managers capture and coach drive behavior. If your drivers are engaging in dangerous behavior, like speeding in a parking lot, you’ll be notified.
Preventing injury and death when driving goes beyond driving behavior on the road. Drivers often take advantage of parking lots or loading docks and forget that the rules of safe driving still apply. If drivers engage in safe parking lot behavior, such as reverse parking, hundreds of lives could be saved each year by helping to prevent incidents that result from blind spots. For fleet owners and truck drivers, similar rules apply for promoting safety in parking lots. Contact Verizon Connect today to learn about our solutions for improving fleet safety.