A car is a dangerous thing

I am firmly convinced that you are most likely to be involved in an accident in parking lots. There is something about the fact that you are moving at slow speeds that causes people to get distracted and not pay attention. It is incredible to me that at least the basic elements of how to maneuver in tight spaces at low speeds are not mastered by people, as this set of examples demonstrate.

Sometime ago, I linked to a set of directions that guarantee perfect parallel parking. I have followed those directions and they do work as well as advertised and have almost never had to pull out and start over. #7 is an important step that is easy to forget.


  1. oualawouzou says

    Most of them made me cringe (oh, the humanity!), but the one from 2:10 to 2:25 genuinely had me laugh out loud. 🙂

  2. Lofty says

    Some people (like my wife) clearly lack the ability to learn parking by trial and error correction. Every action has to be learnt, so a change in parking conditions will leave her flustered. She is lucky that where we live she never has to do parallel reverse parking. Reversing is a procedure that she hopes will be over as soon as possible and involves hanging grimly onto the steering wheel at full lock with the pump squealing so that the car magically acquires the correct orientation for forwards travel. If I invented a car with a hydraulic jack in the middle to spin it on its axis she would be eternally grateful.

    Yet in the forwards direction she is a good driver and never has accidents.

  3. says

    I couldn’t finish watching that video, it’s too agonizing to stomach.

    Unfortunately, angle parking isn’t much better than parallel parking. People tend to floor it when reversing out, usually with a blind spot caused by the car next to them. Worse yet, most drivers assume no one will be pulling, out so they don’t slow down as they trundle down the street.

    The best type of parking spaces are ones you rarely see: a line of single space parking spots. You enter from one direction, exit from the other, and everyone is facing the same way. Cars are always going forward, drivers have good visibility. Other drivers already moving know which way cars are going, can see the drivers of cars pulling out if in front of them.

  4. Lofty says

    Oh and before anyone thinks I’m attacking female drivers, I’m not. My wife is just the person I observe the most. I run a one-man-business from my house and it requires people to drive down my steepish driveway and work out what to do at the bottom. I have a sign on the corner of the house saying “customer parking” and right next to it a single parking spot outlined by white paint so that the driver needs only to pull up in their normal direction of motion and the turn-around remains clear for others to use.

    Almost without fail, first time visitors pass the parking spot and stop in the middle of the turning space and block it completely. And they are quite nonplussed when I ask them to park in the space provided, so the next person along has room to turn. Some then try to park on the marked space at right angles to the marked line, thinking that this is what I want. I sometimes have to park their vehicle myself. When I don’t make sure the turn space is clear is the time a delivery driver appears with a parcel. People obviously have real trouble in novel situations and their previous learning/instruction doesn’t give them a clue.

    Then there’s the inability of many drivers to realise that their vehicle cannot reverse out of the second, angled parking spot just before the house. They try to turn their vehicle to face the other way and often get stuck in the grass edge because they have no idea how much space they need to turn. I’ve had to tow out a few who simply couldn’t manage to back out normally and turn around down the bottom where it’s level and big enough to turn.

    Lastly there are the clowns who reverse right back up the driveway and end up getting stuck on the off camber bend 1/2 way up. These are the drivers that have no idea how to drive a slope beyond the capability of their reverse gear or clutch.

    Some days I wonder how humanity hasn’t yet managed to progress to competence being required to acquire a drivers license.

  5. Holms says

    The worst accident I’ve heard of from amongst my friends and such was in an empty carpark. Because of course he was doing burnouts and donuts and assumed ’empty of cars’ meant ’empty of all obstacles’. A light post disagreed with him and won.

    He then had the nerve to ask his mum -- the owner of the car -- to claim responsibility, so that he would not lose his learners license (it’s much easier to have a learners permit nullified than the full thing here in Australia) almost any infraction will do it).

  6. mithrandir says

    A goodly number of the incidents in the video look like the driver panicked on the first collision, stabbed their foot at the floorboards in hopes of hitting the brake pedal, and hit the other pedal instead.

  7. Lofty says

    Finally, I think people have lost the skill to use both feet at the same time due to the tiny number of vehicles that still have a manual transmission. Their left foot may as well be missing for all the good it does them. Leaving your left foot on the edge of the brake pedal during parking maneuvers means it takes much less time to stop the vehicle if you miscue with your right foot.

  8. thebookofdave says

    Speaking from personal experience, cars entering and exiting parking lot driveways are most likely to turn cycling into a contact sport. Fortunately, over a half-dozen such events have produced no injuries greater than a skinned knee, or damage beyond a dented panel and crashed-tested helmet.

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