How to avoid parking garage crashes

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Having spent more time in parking garages of late (airports and hotels) I'm amazed we don’t see more “incidents” from poor driving. This (along with a few near misses by other drivers) prompted this discussion.

While  many see parking garages to be a nerve-racking experience, it really doesn’t need to be if some basic actions are taken and if total reliance  on a camera is not the standard to which we aspire  -  then drivers can avoid a ‘crash’.


Good news for those who favour American cars  - the national highway traffic safety administration in the US has mandated that all new automobiles include some type of rear-view camera by 2018. However, rear-view cameras alone are not 100% reliable when it comes to avoiding car park collisions.

Scanning the surroundings:  It is crucial to be fully aware of your surroundings while driving in and out of parking garages due to the quick and unpredictable activity that can take place... some of which are:

  • Vehicles reversing from a parking slot and
  • Pedestrians walking among the parked cars.

The best thing drivers can do, as they’re entering a parking garage, is to keep their eyes up, focus further ahead and let their peripheral vision assist them with the activities that are close by so they can identify movement a fraction of a second earlier and adjust their driving accordingly.

Another strategy recommended for (well, to avoid!) garage crashes is finding parking areas where drivers can move up to the forward space  (“pull-through” ) if it is not occupied by another vehicle and if the parking slot is straight and not angled. One company in the US showed a 96% reduction in the company’s accident rate for backing and parking over a 15-month period.


This is one of the simplest ways to avoid incidents in garages, especially for large vehicles, and those that do not have a useful mirror system set-up.

One of the more simple ways (albeit it involves some walking ) is  that drivers, if they have time to do so, try to find parking in sections of a garage where there are more spaces available and less competition for those spaces — specifically, the middle or rear of a parking lane instead of the front of the lane.

It amazing that people so often circle round and round trying to find the closest spot to the entrance of the building they’re going to. That is where all the heavy congestion is.

Other suggestions:

  • Doing a quick walk-around the car - something every advanced driver should do.
  • Determining if people in the immediate area are getting in or out of their vehicle
  • Hooting a couple of times when reversing
  • Turning on emergency flashers if it is daytime, since reversing lights may not be as noticeable
  • Opening the front windows to hear what is happening nearby.

If you are given to being over-reliant on technology, remember that there are times where technology just cannot do the job. For example, you could have dirt on your sensors or it rains or sun glare could affect the sensors.

To avoid parking-related crashes one can summarise it in a simple phrase: "Do what you can to identify and be identified."

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said about 14% of all vehicle collisions that result in damage occurs in car parks.

Be careful how you park and remember you are better-equipped to take control of a situation on arriving than leaving.