By making parking lots safer, you create a better environment for patrons and businesses. About 1 in 4 pedestrian-related accidents occur in parking lots. Without the right precautions in place, parking lots can be dangerous and can even elicit criminal activity. Plus, they can make people feel unsafe which may cause them to avoid the parking lot altogether.
A recent ITE study that assessed 480 pedestrian-related crashes in parking lots found that 73% of these accidents occurred in retail parking lots. Shopping centers were home to the highest number of pedestrian injuries. Next in line, big box stores and grocery store parking lots. By following these tips, you can ensure a safer parking lot for greater productivity.
6+ Tips for Safer Parking Lots
#1. Add lighting to all parts of the parking lot
Lighting makes parking areas much safer and they feel safer, too. In fact, customers have reported avoiding dark parking lots after dark because they do not feel safe. This can slow down business for local shops, which means adding lighting is a good investment for a variety of reasons.
In addition, well-lit parking lots are easier to safely navigate because motorists and pedestrians can see better. This helps reduce the likelihood of accidents. The ability to see potential hazards and avoid them is crucial.
The two primary factors to consider are light quality and uniformity. LED lights provide a bright and high-quality light that is eco-friendlier and more cost effective than traditional incandescent bulbs. Add lighting fixtures evenly throughout the space to prevent dark corners or shadowy regions.
Goals to remember:
- Good light color – the color output plays a big role in how well your eyes can see in the dark.
- Reduce glare as much as possible
- Remove shadowy areas
- Pick high quality lighting fixtures that are resistant to rust
#2. Install bollards
Adding bollards in front of stores will prevent the risk of damage to storefronts from vehicles. According to the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, at least 50 accidents occur per day that involve vehicles running into commercial buildings. Cars are not the only threat, carts pose another (often unrealized) threat to buildings. They run into buildings far more often than you might assume.
Installing sturdy bollards around storefront perimeters can solve this problem and prevent it from happening.
#3. Add pedestrian walkways
Well-designed pedestrian walkways keep pedestrians safer by making drivers more aware of foot traffic. In addition, it helps deter pedestrians from cutting through traffic and interfering with vehicle traffic. Different paving materials or elevation changes can be used to signal when a walkway crosses through traffic.
#4. Install plenty of cart corrals
Evenly dispersed cart corrals encourage customers to return their carts instead of letting them roll around the parking lot unattended where they can damage vehicles, buildings, and so forth. Adding just one cart corral isn’t enough, if the corral is too far away from where a customer is parked, chances are, they won’t make the journey to return it. At least one cart corral should be placed in every aisle.
#5. Control traffic flow
Create a simple parking lot design to control the flow of traffic, keep things running smoothly and reduce the risk of accidents.
Some general ideas to help control traffic include:
- Creating separate entrances and exits
- Adding speed bumps to reduce vehicle speeds
- Marking visible lines on parking spaces
- Adding pedestrian crossing signs
In addition, improve building frontage roads, or the main roads that connect city streets to a parking lot. The goal is to make sure the street is not too wide so that cars do not park there, as this can block driver visibility and increase the likelihood of accidents as cars pull in and pull out of the parking lot.
#6. Add raised islands at the end of each parking row
A built-in island at the end of each parking aisle adds an extra element of safety. Stripped end islands do not entirely prevent drivers from parking in these illegal areas. A raised island makes it impossible for vehicles to do so. As a result of preventing cars from parking here, drivers and pedestrians are granted better visibility with fewer distractions.
Additional Parking Lot Safety Tips
- If construction is ongoing, make sure to add appropriate signs and precautions.
- Post the speed limit at 10 MPH – vehicles should drive even slower if it is raining or snowing, or the roads are icy.
- Consider adding parking spaces around the back of the building
- Anytime there is a walkway that is parallel to auto travel lanes, there should be a raised curb, landscaping feature, or bollard to physically sperate pedestrians from traffic.