Collisions in parking lots are the most common and least reported in the fleet industry.
What can be done to improve driver and vehicle safety when operating in a parking lot and trying to squeeze into a spot?
“The best way to avoid a parking lot crash is to backup as little as possible,” said Phil Moser, vice president of Advanced Driver Training Services (ADTS).
Moser offered safety tips and practices that fleet drivers should keep in mind.
Setting a Safety GOAL
First, Moser advised fleet drivers to look for pull-through parking spaces. By parking in a pull-through space, drivers would decrease their chances of getting into an accident, Moser stated.
“If the driver can’t pull-through a parking space, they need to back in,” Moser said.
And, drivers should also remember the vehicle’s pivot points. Not to forget, the front tires give the vehicle direction and the rear wheels help with pivoting.
Also, he cautioned drivers to wait for the rear wheels to align with the center pillar and then make the turn. Otherwise, they will turn into the obstacle.
Next, drivers need to judge whether the vehicle is going to fit and keep a watchful eye on other vehicles to make sure they do the same.
Therefore, the best way to do this is to get close to the side they can see through the best.
“The left front provides the best view as the driver moves the vehicle, and they can judge it the best,” Moser said. “The rest of the car should follow through, don’t stare at the obstacle.”
Finally, Moser provided a simple acronym to help fleet drivers to remember to be safe: GOAL, or “get out and look” at what surrounds the vehicle.
GOAL allows drivers to become aware of any obstacles that may be in their way as they pull out of the parking space.
“Drivers should approach from the passenger’s side and do a walk around,” Moser said. “There could be kids back there or a pole the driver forgot about.”
Moreover, when drivers are backing out, they need to make sure backing lights activate, the vehicle is in reverse, and they should linger for a few seconds. Before reversing, drivers need to tap on the horn a couple of times.This will serve as a warning for pedestrians and those distracted by their smart phones to move away from the vehicle because it will be backing out shortly.
Integrating Safety Technology
Moser sees rear-view cameras and other safety technology as added benefits that supplement drivers’ safety techniques and practices.
“It’s terrific technology that allows drivers to see what is directly behind their vehicles, whether it be obstacles or a child running up behind the car,” Moser said.
But, he warned that cameras and safety technology cannot give a complete view, and over-reliance on this technology will result in the development of bad habits.
“Cameras and other safety technology work best when used in conjunction with safe driving techniques,” Moser said.
The addition of cameras and other technology to improve driver safety can serve as a secondary line of defense.
“Parking safety is a big challenge in the fleet industry,” said Blake Gasca, CEO of Convoy Technologies, a provider of safety solutions such as backup camera systems, sensors, and live video recording services.
When taking the issues of parking and driver safety into account, Gasca highlights key points fleet managers need to be aware of.
“Fleets need to recognize parking collisions as an ongoing issue,” according to Gasca.
Therefore, fleet managers need to plan ahead and do their research on what kind of tools would work best for their fleets.
Additionally, fleet managers need to know where the industry is going.
“With the advancement in the technology available to fleets, fleet managers must adapt and use this tech as training tools,” said Gasca.
This technology will help fleet managers coach drivers on how to maneuver.