Park Head-in or Back-in?

I am driving a relatively new car that I care a lot about, and I would prefer to park head in. Even though it takes a bit more time to back out first and go, parking head-in has these advantages:

  • it makes it harder for car thieves to haul away the car with a towing truck because most cars are front-wheel drive;
  • it protects the front end of the car against risks of scratches and bumps when others cars get in and out of their parked positions. I once saw a video clip of a SUV leaving a parking lot, and as it turned too sharp and too soon, the backside of the SUV hit the front end of a car parked next to it. The bumper of the car came off, and based on what I could see, there would be damage to the internal parts of the front end. Since watching that video, I decided that I would park head-in. The back end is less important and cheaper to fix than the front end.

But if you are going to pick up the car at night, you may consider park back-in so that when you pick up the car at night, you can take off more quickly and easily, depending on how safe or dangerous the area is.

Where to Park in a Parking Lot?

I prefer to park away from the ends of a lane. Chances of collision is higher near the beginning or the end of a parking lane, simply because those spots are busier as cars turn into or pass through those spots.

I also prefer to park some way away from the crowd closer to the business, and I prefer to walk a bit than wait in the car or circle the parking lot for a spot closer to the facility. Walking a little is good for health, saves gas and helps the environment.

I would also avoid spots next to trucks and SUVs. First of all, they are bigger and more clumsy, and therefore have a higher chance of scraping you as they come out; secondly, they usually block or obscure your view and makes it more difficult for you come back out.

But I don’t like to park alone with no other cars on either side of me, because it invites student drivers to treat you as a practice target.

Dangers in the Parking Lot

New and inexperienced drivers often do not realize the many dangers lurking in the parking lot. I don’t remember where I saw this, but the factoid states that more car accidents happen in the parking lot than on the road. I still remember one near-miss situation I had in the Super C parking lot in Montreal, when I was a new driver. Sudden appearance of pedestrians from behind parked cars startled me and I was lucky that I was able to stop in time. Had I been driving a little faster, the situation would have been really bad.

So, drive slowly in  a parking lot, and watch out for all kinds of potential hazards:

  • pedestrians popping out from behind parked SUV or trucks,
  • children jay-walking,
  • shopping cars rolling into your way,
  • speed bumps,
  • inexperienced drivers going too fast in a cross lane,
  • senior drivers backing out from parked positions and forgetting to check traffic.

When Your View Is Blocked

Even though I never choose to park beside a truck, I sometimes find that the spot next to me got taken up by a truck or SUV. They block or obscure my view when I want to leave my parking. The common-sense way is to inch backwards slowly, listen for approaching cars and pedestrians and be ready to stop in your track, until you can see left and right behind you. Passing cars make noises and often blare their horn, if they sense that you are backing out into their way.

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