I went to the Kroger over the weekend and since there were no empty spaces close, I had to park nearly at the end of one aisle. I parked and started walking back toward the store, being careful to stay over to the side of the lane to let cars pass while simultaneously watching for cars with drivers in them backing out so I wouldn’t unintentionally be run over.
Not everyone does this. I know this from experience when I have been backing out of a parking space at a busy store. Many times when I thought the way was clear, I have had to slam on my brakes in order to miss hitting someone who decided to walk behind my vehicle. The irony is I usually have to suffer through angry glares and (thankfully) unheard comments from these almost-flattened pedestrians. Most people just expect the driver to see them walking behind their car. This made me start wondering if there were any laws to govern the pedestrian and drivers of a parking lot. So I Binged it and did a little research.
It seems that the laws vary from state to state. If there are speed limit signs and directional signs, i.e., stop or yield signs, you should be attentive to abide by them just as you do out on the open road. However, because the store parking lot is considered “private property,” the police cannot give you a ticket and usually if there is a fender bender won’t even show up if called and merely suggest that you exchange insurance information with the other driver. As far as I can tell, the person backing out is usually the one who is considered “at fault” because the laws say you must have your vehicle under control at all times. So if you run over a pedestrian while backing out of a parking space you will have to prove that you were doing everything possible to avoid hitting the person. I think there is a major flaw in this law. Unless you are capable of literally pivoting your head completely around on your shoulders, at some point in time you are going to almost run over someone! It’s hard enough while backing out of a tight parking space watching for oncoming vehicles that it should really be the responsibility of pedestrian to be the on the lookout for cars backing out.
I suppose it boils down to a simple matter of parking lot etiquette. But though most of us do act appropriately and do practice good driving etiquette in and out of parking lots, there are a few who drive and tromp carelessly through life expecting “the other guy” to do the watching. So unless your car is equipped with one of those new back-up cameras, which in my opinion is one of the greatest inventions since rearview mirrors, be careful and back out slowly, watching for other vehicles and pedestrians. Stealing a phrase from the old TV series Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there!”