Cool heads must prevail in parking wars
by Charlie Sewell
columnist
December 02, 2012 12:41 AM | 1129 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Black Friday has come and gone but the holiday shopping season has just begun. Using a parking lot can be like playing a game, and challenges await drivers and pedestrians who fail to play by the rules. Are you up to the challenge?

Parking regulations seem pretty simple, yet finding a parking space can be difficult. People who create their own parking rules are problematic. Some drivers are either in too big of a hurry or feel too important and make rules as they go.

It is also frustrating to find an empty parking space but discover someone parked over the line. Even worse is when you find two parking spaces intentionally occupied by one car. So why not create your own parking spot? Why does it matter if the new spot creates traffic flow problems or danger to others? Who is going to complain if you jump a curb, crush the grass or destroy other vegetation? After all, no one owns a parking lot.

Those who procrastinate are not at liberty to declare an emergency for everyone else. I regret your Christmas dinner will be a few minutes late because you forgot to get marshmallows to top the sweet potato soufflé, but parking at the front door instead of a legitimate parking space puts other drivers and pedestrians at risk. Many store curbs are marked as fire lanes, and parking there could get your name listed on a court docket.

The object of one game is to get a No. 1 parking space. Some call a No. 1 the absolute closest they can get to the front door, while others enjoy the exercise and locate farther from the door. Some folks jog for exercise but will mow you down to get the closest parking space. Tempers can flare and the rage can be downright deadly. Even calm drivers are thinking about that perfect parking space and may not have their head in the game. Nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian collisions occur in shopping-center parking lots.

Regardless of your idea of a perfect parking spot, you should take note of where you park. It is neither a fun nor safe game to stroll through aisles and aisles of cars pressing your keyless remote and hoping to hear your car horn beep.

One rather cowardly game is grabbing a pedestrian’s purse from a moving car. Let’s make a deal: you let go of your purse and I won’t drag you under my tires. You can increase your chance of winning that spineless game by wearing the purse strap on the shoulder opposite traffic.

Cellphones and ear phones can easily distract you from being aware of your surroundings. Frequently scan 360 degrees and don’t feel bad because you avoid a person that is approaching. It is certainly OK to stare to let others be aware that you are alert.

A parking lot doesn’t have to be scary or dangerous, but if you don’t follow simple rules, you could be the biggest loser.

Charlie Sewell is the Powder Springs chief of police. His column runs occasionally in the Marietta Daily Journal.

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