Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: “Rules of the road” for parking lots

If you fail to follow the rules, you run the risk of being towed

By Tim Schewe

“Are there specific rules of the road for parking lots?” asks a reader. “If so please clarify them.”

Parking lots often seem to be a free for all to me. This observation might be confirmed by the fact that ICBC reports that in 2018 there were about 96,000 crashes in parking lots that resulted in a claim being filed. Four thousand three hundred of those claims included someone being injured, 480 of those people were pedestrians.

A parking lot is private property and you are using them as a guest of the property owner. They set rules for your presence and you agree to them by parking. Common rules include who can use a parking space, how long you can park there and even when the lot is closed to the public entirely.

If you fail to follow the rules, you run the risk of being towed and being responsible to pay the towing and storage costs.

Our Motor Vehicle Act defines a highway as every private place or passageway to which the public, for the purpose of the parking or servicing of vehicles, has access or is invited. This means that the usual rules that you would obey when driving on public roads apply to you here as well.

If a municipality has enacted speed limits for lanes in their traffic bylaw, the maximum speed in a parking lot is 20 km/h. It is not necessary to post a sign to impose the limit.

Failure to obey speed limits or any of the other traffic rules could result in receiving a traffic ticket or being compelled to attend court for the violation.

It seems that the design of many parking lots has only one purpose in mind, to pack as many vehicles as possible into the space provided. This doesn’t seem logical when you consider that each vehicle using the lot results in the presence of at least one pedestrian. Where do you find a safe place to walk?

The rules put the onus on drivers to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian on the highway which of course also includes the parking lot.

The MVA also says that pedestrians crossing a highway not in a crosswalk must yield to vehicles. Clearly the smart thing to do is to watch out for each other and not meet in the middle!

ICBC has a number of examples of how fault is determined in parking lot collisions on their web site:

• Crash while exiting a parking lot, driveway or alley

• Parking lot main lane and feeder lane crash

• Crash while reversing from a parking spot

• Reversing from a parking spot and reversing in lane

• Reversing from parking spots at the same time

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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