Parking lots are an integral part of our daily lives, serving as temporary homes for our vehicles while we go about our business. Whether it’s at work, shopping centers, schools, or recreational facilities, we all rely on parking lots to accommodate our cars. However, what often goes unnoticed is the importance of parking lot safety.
Look, we drive a lot–
In 2017, Americans made 1.1 billion trips every day. That includes all the places we park on those trips as well. To accommodate the nearly 291 million cars owned in the US and taken on those many trips everyday, there are over 2 million parking spots nationwide.
Now, with the holidays around the corner (or for some folks, the holidays are already here and have been in full force) there is even more traffic found in parking lots with all the movement between vehicles and their occupants.
And though online shopping has become easy and available to so many, physical store sales still rose in 2022 by 6.6% with holiday specific spending rising by 7%. This means that the parking lot safety we should be keeping in mind on any trip we take on any day of the week becomes even more important as the concentration of cars, people, and parking lots engaging with each other increases this time of year.
Ensuring the security of these spaces is crucial, not just for the protection of our vehicles but also for our personal safety.
One in five accidents happen in parking lots. That’s more than 50,000 accidents occurring in parking lots every year.
That’s why in this article, we’ll delve into the various aspects of parking lot safety and explore ways to make these spaces more secure.
Parking Lot Safety: Lighting Matters
One of the fundamental elements of parking lot safety is proper lighting.
The lighting in parking lots matters in some of the most basic manners. The better you can see the safer you can be!
In 2020, it was noted that 2,500 more accidents happened in areas unlit or with poor visibility.
Considering the concentration of holiday shoppers and traffic in parking lots as a whole, being aware of overall visibility is important.
Well-lit parking lots, not only discourage criminal activity, but also enhance personal safety.
It’s adequate lighting that ensures individuals can see clearly, helping them navigate the parking area and locate their vehicles easily. Being able to see where your vehicle is means you don’t have to become a part of the ⅓ of Americans that misplace their parked cars every year.
Moreover, bright lighting acts as a deterrent to potential criminals who may be tempted to break into cars or harm individuals under the cover of darkness. Regular maintenance of lighting fixtures is essential to ensure consistent illumination.
Parking Lot Safety: Surveillance Systems
Installing security cameras in parking lots is another crucial step in enhancing safety.
Statistics show the presence of security cameras reducing crime by 51%— especially crimes of opportunity like vehicle break-ins.
For incidents not considered “crimes of opportunity”, like hit-and-runs or vehicle collisions, security cameras provide valuable information captured in real time. Security cameras help solve up to 35% of crimes and contribute to complete parking lot safety.
Modern cameras come equipped with features such as night vision, motion detection, and remote access, making them highly effective in monitoring parking lot activities. It’s these well-placed surveillance systems that can assist in tracking stolen vehicles or identifying those hit-and-run perpetrators.
Parking Lot Safety: Visible Signage
Clear and visible signage is essential to guide drivers and pedestrians within the parking lot.
Directional signs, speed limit signs, and pedestrian crossing signs help maintain order and prevent accidents. Moreover, prominently displayed signs indicating the presence of security cameras and warning against criminal activity act as deterrents.
Just as mentioned above in the speaking to the power of proper lighting, visibility is key– including its effect on being able to see what the rules of the road are.
Consider the fact that pedestrians crossing out of designated areas, or jaywalking, are considered by some as the greatest cause of accidents, particularly pedestrian-vehicle incidents. Clear identification of pedestrian crossing points make it easier for both the individuals out of cars and those inside them to be alert to potential foot traffic.
Parking Lot Safety: Security Personnel
Hiring security personnel to patrol parking lots can significantly improve safety as well. Security officers can deter criminal behavior through their presence, respond quickly to emergencies, and provide assistance to visitors who may require it.
The Red Cross deeply believes 90% of lives can be saved in an emergency just by the response alone. Focused presence is key.
If something does happen, the presence of security personnel, much like security cameras, brings awareness to individuals that they are being watched, and incidents can quickly be resolved with immediate response.
In some cases, personnel are required to have first aid training. In addition to this training that can assist in medical incidents, they can also assist in enforcing parking regulations, preventing congestion, and ensuring that reserved spots are used appropriately.
Parking Lot Safety: Secure Entrances and Exits
Controlling access points to the parking lot is vital for security.
These secure access points, often set in place as gates or keypads, can actually help minimize property damage, pedestrian accidents and crime.
Installing these gates or barriers that can be controlled during specific hours or by authorized personnel helps in limiting entry. Access cards, tickets, or codes can be used to manage entry and exit, preventing unauthorized vehicles from entering the premises.
Parking Lot Safety: Regular Maintenance
Maintenance of the parking lot’s physical infrastructure is essential for safety. Potholes, cracks, and uneven surfaces can pose hazards to both vehicles and pedestrians– consider how common slips and falls are and the impact these injuries/incidents can be on one’s livelihood (and if you can’t picture it, don’t worry– we covered it in our entry regarding seasonal risks last year).
What does that maintenance look like?
Regular inspections and prompt repairs ensure a smooth and safe parking experience.
Parking Lot Safety: Emergency Call Stations
You may have seen the bright yellow boxes that dot highways, or the illuminating blue lights found scattered across college campuses. These indicators are designed to make it easy to find the call boxes so those who may be in need know where to go to call for help.
The same efficacy can be said for these call boxes being installed in parking lots as well.
In larger parking lots, installing emergency call stations can be a lifesaver. These stations allow individuals to seek immediate assistance in case of an emergency or suspicious activity. The presence of these stations can provide a sense of security to users, knowing that help is just a call away.
Parking Lot Safety: Education and Awareness
Raising awareness among users about parking lot safety is equally important as all the resources and designs put into place.
Think about how many of us had our first driving lessons in a fairly empty parking lot, gripping the steering wheel, and trying to remember every pointer our parents or instructor had been telling us before we swapped seats. Sitting behind the steering wheel today, you don’t have to worry too much about all those safe driving tips that are now second nature to your driving habits.
Learning about all the safety habits and resources in those same parking lots though? That can be a refreshing focus to help you stay safe in any of the familiar spots you’ve pulled into a thousand times.
Providing tips on locking vehicles, keeping valuables out of sight, and staying alert can empower individuals to take precautions. Additionally, educating employees and students about safe parking practices in workplace or school parking lots can go a long way in preventing accidents and incidents.
Parking Lot Safety: Parking Lot Design
The design of a parking lot plays a significant role in safety.
As a snapshot of civil engineering with a focus not only on functionality but overall parking lot safety, properly designed parking lot flow aids in the movement of vehicles as well as those on foot as pedestrians.
Well-marked lanes, clear parking spaces, and designated pedestrian walkways are essential. Avoiding blind spots and ensuring a logical flow of traffic can prevent accidents and confusion.
Parking Lot Safety: Emergency Preparedness
As you’ve probably noticed by now, there are a lot of elements that go into building overall parking lot safety for all vehicles and individuals– those in their cars, with their cars, away from their cars or just the cars themselves. With all of this in mind, it’s also important to take note that being prepared for emergencies is crucial in parking lot safety.
With designs integrating parking lot safety, staff and resources on site, and proper guidance of flow with signage and layout, there is still the chance something may happen.
Emergency preparedness includes having a plan for evacuations, fire safety measures, and first aid supplies readily available. Though CPR and first aid certifications may not be an industry requirement for all security personnel, it is widely seen as integral to the emergency preparedness of those on site.
Training staff and security personnel in emergency response procedures can make a significant difference in critical situations.
Parking Lot Safety: Regular Security Audits
Though not an item you may find on your shelf at the grocery store, keep in mind that parking lots do still have a shelf life as well.
New security personnel are brought in.
Security cameras need updating.
Rather than avoiding the needed physical site security audit until after something happens, a check-in on the quality and efficacy of the security structure once or twice a year can be beneficial in maintaining parking lot safety.
These periodic security audits of the parking lot can help identify vulnerabilities and areas that need improvement. These audits can involve assessing the effectiveness of lighting, surveillance, signage, and security personnel, among other factors. Implementing the findings from these audits can continuously enhance safety.
Parking Lot Safety: Community Involvement
In cases where parking lots serve as public gathering spaces, involving the community can promote safety. Neighborhood watch programs or community policing initiatives can help deter criminal activity and create a sense of ownership and responsibility among residents.
Parking lot safety is a multifaceted concern that involves various aspects of design, technology, and human behavior. Prioritizing safety in these spaces is not only essential for protecting our vehicles but also for ensuring the well-being of individuals who use them. By implementing a comprehensive approach that includes proper lighting, surveillance, signage, security personnel, and education, we can create parking lots that are secure, user-friendly, and contribute to a safer community as a whole.
So, the next time you step into a parking lot, remember that safety should be a top priority, for your sake and for the sake of others.