Designing a Safer Parking Lot

7 Guidelines for making parking lots less likely places for accidents.

Parking lots are all over the US. Although they are generally considered safe and relatively uninteresting places, they are more dangerous than most think. In fact, a large amount of car accidents in the US happen in parking lots, especially to children, according the NHTSA (The NHTSA is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Many of these accidents are backovers. These are accidents occurring between pedestrians and vehicles, in which a vehicle reverses into the pedestrian. Other factors that contribute to parking lot dangers are that drivers are more likely to be distracted or at ease while in a parking lot than they are driving. This means there are more drivers in lots who are on their phones, their GPS devices, or otherwise not paying attention to where they are going.

There is no accounting for drivers acting unsafe. But what can be done to make parking lots less likely places for accidents to happen? Particularly, what can be done from the side of business owners to make parking lots safer? As consummately professional paving contractors at Reliable Paving, we are always looking for ways for our work to make people safer.

1. Ensure that the whole parking lot has proper lighting

This one is pretty obvious. When pedestrians and motorists can see better, they are less likely to get into accidents. There are also a few less immediately noticeable benefits. They include the fact that people simply feel safer in well-lit parking lots. People tend to avoid walking through or using poorly-lit parking areas. This means that businesses will pull in more customers at night if their lots have good lighting.

Additionally, not all lighting is created equal. Many businesses skimp on lighting so they don’t have to foot another bill. LEDs can be used to provide cheaper lights. Ensure that the entire lot is uniformly-lit, so there aren’t shadowed areas and corners. Uniform lighting applies to color too, it can be visually confusing to be in a lot with differing colors of light source. A nice, soft color also determines how well your eyes see in the dark. Finally, protect your investment by choosing corrosion-resistant fixtures.

2. Use 90° two-way parking aisles

As backovers are one of the main causes of parking lot-related injury these make sense. Letting people pull through spaces (two-way parking) reduces the need of cars to back up when they exit a space. Additionally, 90° aisles usually provide more room between them for maneuvering. Unfortunately, the added space makes motorists feel safer, so they tend to drive faster in lots with 90° aisles. Make sure to have plenty of speed limit signage as a complement.

3. Improve building frontage roads

These are the spaces between the parking areas and the store where pedestrians walk in and cars drive through. These are the main areas that connect the parking area to city streets. There are plenty of things that can improve safety in these areas.

Add bollards. Those yellow poles you see outside of big stores serve a purpose. They keep vehicles from driving into them. It’s estimated around 60 accidents of this type occur per day around the country.

Widen frontage roads. When cars are parked too closely to the storefronts, it’s harder to see where other vehicles and pedestrians are coming from.

Add speed bumps. These serve to remind vehicles that pedestrians are in the area.

Pedestrian crossings with signage should be included.

4. Raised islands at parking row ends

Even if the spaces are two-way, raised islands at the ends is a good idea. They prevent illegal parking at row ends, thus ensuring more room to drive and better visibility. Both of the benefits from raised islands are conferred to pedestrians and drivers. 

5. Place parking behind buildings

This enables pedestrians to walk right up to the business without having to go through the lot. Simply taking out or decreasing the driver-pedestrian interaction makes the lot safer for everyone.

6. Control traffic in the lot

Keep things simple and running smoothly, and accidents will decrease. There are a few things we can do to ensure that traffic flows safely. Not only is controlling traffic good for safety, but it also results in vehicles and pedestrians entering and exiting more quickly. This frees up parking spaces more quickly for new customers, and can lead to a faster rate of business.

Have clearly marked, separate entrances and exits.

Speed bumps (not just on frontage roads).

Ensure your lines/painting on the asphalt is clear and not degraded.

One-directional traffic lanes between parking aisles.

7. Excellent signage

One simple improvement that can be applied to just about every step in making parking lots safer is to add or improve your signage. Proper signs and directions don’t just apply to painting on the asphalt paving, but also everywhere else.

  • Have signs for walkways.
  • Ensure your asphalt lines and painting are clear.
  • Speed limit signs posted at entrances and throughout the lot.
  • Disabled parking spaces are clearly posted with signs and painted spots.
  • Entrances and exits are clearly marked.
  • Driving directions are from signs.
  • Signs telling you where you are not allowed to park.
  • Signs should be clear, undamaged, and well-lit.

Pave smart, pave safely

At Reliable Paving, we’ve been doing this for a long time. With over 35 years of experience under our belts, and a large, professional team of over 200, we are up to just about any asphalt paving job. Our services include not only paving, but also lot maintenance and care. We can re-stripe, repair asphalt, ensure ADA compliance, and much more. Your business is an investment, and the parking lot is often the first thing that customers will experience when they come to you. Ensure it’s as safe and as good of shape as it can be with us. If you want to build a safe parking area, or you want to modify yours to be safer, don’t hesitate to call us today.