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Parking lots are very busy, and sometimes dangerous places – and most people have been both a hurried driver and a distracted pedestrian as they locate a parking place in a busy parking lot, exit their car, and walk toward their destination.

Although drivers usually travel slowly through parking lots as they look for openings, they also move unpredictably in all directions and are often distracted, putting other motorists and pedestrians at risk. Not surprisingly, about one in five motor vehicle accidents actually happen in parking lots, according to a Washington Post report.

Right-Of-Way in Parking Lots

Drivers in parking lots tend to get confused as to who has the right-of-way when crossing the lines of parking spots. A basic rule to follow is to consider what type of lane you are in. Parking lots have two basic types of lanes:

  • Thoroughfare – wider lanes that exit to a street
  • Feeder lanes – smaller lanes that end and begin at the thoroughfares

Those who are driving in a thoroughfare have the right-of-way over those coming out of feeder lanes, meaning that you must stop and allow traffic in the thoroughfare to proceed before moving out of a feeder lane. Similarly, anyone who is moving out of a parking space must yield to those who are driving through the lane. Just like a car coming out of a driveway onto a street, vehicles in a parking space do not have right-of-way over those already proceeding.

Avoiding Parking Lot Accidents

The best way to avoid being involved in a parking lot accident is to drive cautiously, particularly when there are cars and pedestrians going in multiple directions. While someone else might be the one at fault for an accident, should it occur, it’s up to all drivers to help avoid preventable parking lot accidents.

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