Earlier this year my car was T-boned by another vehicle in the local supermarket car-park. My car was out of action for close to three months while it was being repaired. On the plus side, the driver of the other car had contacted his insurer and admitted liability before I'd even had a chance to telephone my own insurance company. At least that part went smoothly.

But the experience has made me especially wary. Since I've had my car back I've ventured only twice into the offending car-park, opting mainly to parallel park in a nearby street. Parking at the supermarket strikes me as too risky now. Public car-parks can be dangerous places. Apart from distracted drivers who could run into you, there are many traps for unsuspecting motorists. Here, in no particular order, are hazards and annoyances to beware of.

Seekers of instant gratification

Some drivers choose to wait near the car-park entrance for another car to vacate a particular space. These people seem oblivious to the fact vehicles are banking up on both sides of the road while they block the entrance. I don't know how such folk can justify inconveniencing maybe a dozen other people just so they can snag the first potential park they see. It's pretty inconsiderate. I make a point of driving well into the car-park before searching for a vacant space.

Too much choice

Am I the only person to feel somewhat discombobulated if there are too many parking spaces unoccupied? Which one should I choose? Which one is most appealing? There are options to be weighed up, factors to be considered. Should I park near the street or far from other cars? Should I park under cover or near a walkway? Close to the first place I intend to visit or where I expect to end my mission? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

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Sloping car-parks

Some car-parks are built on gently sloping terrain. It's not much of a problem until you return to your car and realise that your loaded trolley is quite keen to escape and run away downhill. You have to load your groceries into the car with one hand while restraining a heavy trolley with the other. It's very customer unfriendly.

Drivers who fail to pay

Several times I've been waiting with my validated ticket to leave the Nuffield Street car-park when the driver of the car in front has exited the vehicle in search of a payment machine, leaving his or her car blocking the exit and me seething behind. Seriously? This is very poor form. Which part of paying before returning to your vehicle is difficult to understand?

Random reversing

I've witnessed two cars parked on opposite sides of a narrow thoroughfare reverse out of their spaces at precisely the same time. I watched fascinated as they steadily got closer and closer, the drivers seemingly oblivious to the imminent collision. It was pure luck that they stopped before connecting. After seeing that, I'm surprised there aren't more accidents in car-parks.

Narrow spaces

Don't you curse car-park designers who create spaces so narrow it's almost impossible to get out of your car? You hold the door open say 30-cms wide, hold your stomach in and try to shuffle out sideways. I'd have thought that making supermarket shoppers conscious of their body shape upon arrival is no way to maximise sales. My local supermarket has three plum spaces that are wide enough to comfortably accommodate regular-sized cars driven by regular-sized people. It also has one standalone parking space (located between a concrete pillar and a raised pedestrian island) that is favoured by people keen to not have their precious vehicle dinged by car doors opening onto it.

Inconsiderate use of a parking space

This includes able-bodied people who park in spaces designated for disabled people. It also includes those who park straddling a painted line, thus taking up two spaces with one vehicle; this is most often seen when spaces are especially narrow. Abandoning a supermarket trolley in a parking space is also considered an offence here. It's not just lazy; it's thoroughly thoughtless.

Public car-parks can be dangerous places. Apart from distracted drivers who could run into you, there are many traps for...

Posted by Herald Life on Wednesday, 2 September 2015