"Where Should I Park?" And Other Holiday Shopping Questions Answered

by Courtney Conley

It’s November, which means many of us are in holiday shopping mode. Even though people are buying more and more gifts online these days, Thanksgiving and Black Friday are still the busiest shopping days for stores. That means parking lots are busier than usual, too. People tend to be more distracted in parking lots and garages. According to a poll by the National Safety Council, 66% of drivers nationwide said they make phone calls while driving in a parking lot, and more than half of the respondents said they would program their GPS system, text, browse social media, and use their email while driving in a parking lot. That’s a big problem! Between distracted drivers and people being unsure of how to park correctly, things can go wrong pretty quickly during your holiday shopping trip. We’ve thought of some questions you may have about holiday shopping, and we’re answering them for you here!

How can I stay safe in a parking lot or parking garage?

Parking Lot

There are several things you can do to keep yourself and others safe while in a parking lot.

  • Commit to driving distraction-free. Wait until you’re safely in your parking spot and your vehicle is in park before picking up the phone or programming your GPS.
  • Understand that others may be distracted, and use extreme caution. Don’t just assume someone backing out of a parking spot sees you and will stop.
  • Make eye contact with other drivers and pedestrians. This will help keep everyone on the same page so no one makes an unexpected move.
  • Do not drive through empty parking spaces. It can be tempting to take shortcuts, but pay attention to the flow and design of a parking lot. They’re there to keep everyone organized and safe.

Make sure you keep yourself and those around you safe by always being on the alert.

Where do I park?

GPS

The best way to prepare for your holiday shopping trip is to scope out parking options before you head out. Make a shopping trip plan by writing a list of all of the stores you want to visit, and roughly what time you’d like to go. Do some research about available parking options, and always have a backup in place, just in case the parking option you decided on ends up being full. If you’re going to a shopping area you’re unfamiliar with, consider visiting it a few days in advance. This will help give you a feel of the area, so that you’re not caught off-guard on the busy shopping day.

You can also utilize technology for parking. Most map apps will have an option for you to find parking near your destination. Just make sure someone else is doing the typing in the app, or have it set up before you start your drive.

I don’t know how to parallel park and that’s my only option. Help!

Street Parking

You’re not alone! Lots of people are baffled by parallel parking. True story: in college, I drove almost an hour away to meet a friend for coffee, but the only nearby parking spot required parallel parking… so I TURNED AROUND and went home. Just like that! I was so afraid to parallel park that I didn’t even try. The thing is, parallel parking doesn’t have to be a nightmare. In fact, once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze! Here are a few tips:

  1. Choose a space big enough for your car. Signal, and stop even with the front car. Leave about two feet between you and the other car.
  2. Make sure there is a large enough opening in oncoming traffic so you don’t interfere with traffic flow. Then, turn your front wheels all of the way to the right and drive backward slowly toward the curb.
  3. When your front seat is opposite the rear bumper of the car ahead, quickly turn your steering wheel all of the way to the left. Back up slowly toward the car behind you without touching it. You should be about six inches from the curb.
  4. Straighten your front wheels, and pull into the final parking position. Center your car in the space. Check to make sure your right wheels are within about 10-12 inches (depending on the laws in your area) of the curb or edge of the roadway.

If you’re more of a visual learner, check out our blog post on parallel parking to watch a video on the process.

What do I do once I’ve parked?

Anytime you park your vehicle, you should make sure you put it in “park” before you turn the vehicle off. Before you exit your vehicle, take a look around and make sure there’s nothing someone else may want sitting in plain view, like your cell phone or cash. Store these things in your glove compartment or trunk. Once you’ve exited your car, be sure to lock the doors. This is especially important when you may have expensive items from your shopping trip in the backseat or trunk.

Make sure you remember where your car is. If you’re in a parking garage, you could take a picture of the level you left your car on. You could also use a maps app on your phone to save your location. That way, you’ll be able to easily find your vehicle again after your shopping trip.

Where can I learn more safe driving tips and skills?

Do you have internet access and a desire to become a better driver? If so, consider taking one of our fun, interactive, and affordable online courses! We love to help drivers like you brush up on new traffic laws and learn defensive driving techniques! Check out our website to see what courses we offer in your state and register today!

It’s November, which means many of us are in holiday shopping mode. Even though people are buying more and more gifts online these days, Thanksgiving and Black Friday are still the busiest shopping days for stores. That means parking lots are busier than usual, too. People tend to be more distracted in parking lots and garages. According to a poll by the National Safety Council, 66% of drivers nationwide said they make phone calls while driving in a parking lot, and more than half of the respondents said they would program their GPS system, text, browse social media, and use their email while driving in a parking lot. That’s a big problem! Between distracted drivers and people being unsure of how to park correctly, things can go wrong pretty quickly during your holiday shopping trip. We’ve thought of some questions you may have about holiday shopping, and we’re answering them for you here!

Categories: Trip Planning, Driving Safety