Combine plenty of traffic and pedestrians, countless uncontrolled intersections and just a hint of traffic signage, and you've got yourself a typical parking lot.
The 1st rule is common sense because most of the laws that govern highways and residential streets also apply to parking lots. For example, the normal rules of the road are in effect at parking lot intersections without stop or yield signs.
Never breeze through an uncontrolled parking lot intersection assuming you have the right of way. Instead, slow down and prepare to yield. Look both ways and proceed only when it is safe to do so.
When more than 1 vehicle is approaching at an uncontrolled intersection in a parking lot, the driver on the left must yield to the driver on the right. When it's your turn to go, look both ways, roll forward slowly and use caution as you enter the intersection.
In some areas there are main roadways that provide access to one or more parking lots - these are called thoroughfares. Thoroughfares lead into, through or out of a parking lot and aren't used for vehicle parking. Parking lanes and passageways within a parking lot must yield to thoroughfares.
In the above illustration:
- Car A must yield to the car on the right, Car B.
- Car C must then yield to the vehicle in the thoroughfare, Car D.
Right of way
The right of way in parking lots is no different than on regular roads. If you're turning left, you must give the right of way to oncoming traffic.
When leaving a parking space, you must yield to other drivers proceeding through the lot. It may mean waiting for a few extra moments, but it will save you the hassle of an unfortunate fender bender.
And no matter what - whether the intersection is marked or not - you need to stop for pedestrians. Whether they're walking, using a wheelchair, motorized wheelchair or a medical scooter, pedestrians always have the right of way.
Signal your intentions
Parking lots can be chaotic with traffic and pedestrians all heading in seemingly different directions. Help everyone arrive at their destination safely by signaling your intention to turn.
This rule is especially important if you're waiting for another driver to leave a parking space. Your signal serves as a heads-up to the person in the stall and shows other motorists that your vehicle isn't simply stopped.
Don't be a tailgater
Being a tailgater is bad practice, plain and simple. With so many vehicles and pedestrians in such a tight space, drivers sometimes need to stop unexpectedly in parking lots. Following too closely is a recipe for a collision.
Stay safe by leaving plenty of space between your vehicle and the 1 ahead. If a hazard forces another driver to stop quickly, you'll have plenty of time to react.
By the same token, drivers should try to minimize unexpected stops by staying aware of their surroundings. Scan the road ahead for potential hazards like vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
By recognizing these hazards and planning your course of action, you can avoid swerving or slamming on your brakes, which reduces your chances of a collision.