Parking Lot Right-of-Way

When you are driving through a parking lot, some motorists may be unsure who has right of way. In order to determine who has right of way, you should consider what type of lane you are driving in, as parking lots usually have two different road categories: thoroughfares and feeder lanes.
A thoroughfare is usually a lane that exits to another roadway. These are often wider and function as the main route of transportation in a parking lot. Feeder lanes, however, are usually smaller lanes that begin and end at a thoroughfare.
In a thoroughfare, drivers will often have right-of-way over those who are leaving a feeder lane. When you want to turn left or right, It is important to consider if you are driving on a thoroughfare or a feeder lane as this determines if you are required to yield the right-of-way to oncoming cars, pedestrians, or bicyclists.
In a similar case, anyone who is leaving a parking space is required to yield to motorists traveling in the lane. This is like when you are pulling out of your driveway into the road. Cars in a parking spot do not have right-of-way over those who are already en route.
Lastly, all stop and yield signs override assumed right-of-way. These signs should be considered when you are in a parking lot in the same way as you would for signs on the road. If you do not obey posted signs, it could potentially result in a crash where you could potentially be found at fault for causing.

Leading Reasons for Parking Lot Accidents

  • Avoiding Parking Lot AccidentsTwo motorists back into one another. Because both vehicles are in motion, both drivers would be considered responsible for the accident. Neither motorist would have the right-of-way. It is the responsibility of both drivers to check that it is safe to back up. In this collision, it is most likely that both drivers would share some degree of liability in the crash.
  • A driver pulls forward out of a space and into oncoming traffic. Both cars are in motion so both motorists would be liable. In a parking lot, drivers traveling in the traffic lane have the right-of-way. This means the driver who pulled out of the parking spot will probably take on the majority of the blame for the collision.
  • A driver backs out of a space and into an oncoming vehicle. Because both cars are in motion, both motorists would take on some degree of liability. However, the driver in traveling in the traffic lane would have the right-of-way. The motorist who is backing out of the spot is responsible for waiting until it is safe to do so. The one backing out of the space will probably take on the majority of the blame for the parking lot collision.
  • Two cars aiming for the same space hit each other. When you are racing to get a parking spot, a car hits another vehicle. Both cars are in motion, so both motorists would take on responsibility. The driver who has the right-of-way would be the same as on the road. The motorist attempting to turn is required to yield to oncoming vehicles. This means the motorist who is turning into the parking spot will probably take on the majority of the blame for the collision. There are other factors to consider, like the point of impact, the distance each vehicle was into the spot when the crash happened, as well as the speed of the car leading up to the crash.
  • A car rear-ends another vehicle at a stop sign. In this collision, only one car is in motion. The car in motion will likely take on fault for this kind of crash, regardless if it happens in a parking lot on the road. Even in the case that the car ahead stops abruptly at a stop sign, the driver in the second car will probably be responsible. Motorists should provide sufficient distance between themselves and cars in front of them to prevent a rear-end crash.

Steps to Take to Avoid Parking Lot Crashes

  • Drive carefully and follow the parking lot’s posted speed limit;
  • Do not diagonally cut across the parking lot;
  • Use your turn signal so other drivers are aware of your intentions;
  • Try not to circle around searching for a space nearest to the entrance and instead seek out a space further away;
  • Back into the parking space to make it easier to leave if possible;
  • Park inside the full area of the space without touching the lines. When your car is too far out or to the side, there is an increased risk of someone clipping you or causing damage to your vehicle;
  • When reversing out of the space, do so carefully and look out for pedestrians and oncoming vehicles in the lane, as well as drivers backing out of nearby parking spaces;
  • Do not solely depend on your back-up camera;
  • Pay attention to drivers who may be backing out of a space with blind spots, like a large vehicle parked next to them. Let the other car continue out of the spot until they make eye contact with you. While they may be responsible for an accident, it is up to all motorists to avoid avoidable collisions.

Parking Lot Collisions in Salt Lake City

Parking accidents are surprisingly common in traffic-related crashes, accounting for 14 percent of all reported collisions. It is even more shocking how many people die from these crashes. 206 individuals are killed in parking lot accidents each year. Whether it be another driver, a pedestrian, or a cyclist, parking lot accidents are an entirely preventable collision that can negatively impact the lives of others.
Over the past 30 years, Siegfried & Jensen’s Utah car crash lawyers have fought tirelessly to get the state’s citizens the full and fair compensation they deserve for their medical expenses, funeral arrangments, and other damages caused by a deadly pedestrian collision. Call a qualified personal injury attorney today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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Content checked by personal injury attorney Todd Bradford. I worked for a small law firm in Utah County, where I handled various types of cases. My main focus was personal injury and I decided that is what I enjoyed doing the most. I rejoined Siegfried and Jensen in 2012 where my focus is solely on helping personal injury clients. I take pride in helping personal injury clients and enjoy serving them. If you need an attorney for auto accidents or injuries of any kind in Salt Lake City, UT, Ogden, UT, Spokane, WA, or Boise, ID, contact us.