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Slow Down, Proceed With Caution

By on September 1, 2017
parking

Avoid the Embarrassment of a Parking Lot Accident

BY: David A. Kolman, Senior Editor

Perhaps you’ve heard this one. A truck driver pulled into a truckstop to grab some lunch. He ordered a cheeseburger, a coffee and a slice of apple pie.

Just as he was about to eat them, three burly bikers walked in.

The first burly biker grabbed the trucker’s cheeseburger and gobbled it down in a few bites.

The second burly biker picked up the trucker’s coffee and downed it in one gulp.

The third burly biker devoured the trucker’s apple pie.

The truck driver didn’t do anything or say a word as all this went down. When the bikers finished, he just paid the waitress and left without saying a word.

As the waitress was clearing the dirty dishes a short time later, the first burly biker said, “He ain’t much of a man, is he?”

“He’s not much of a driver, either,” the waitress replied. “He’s just backed his 18-wheeler over three motorcycles.”

All kidding aside, parking lots, no matter where they are—at warehouses, distribution centers, truckstops, shopping centers, etc.—can be dangerous places. That’s because of other drivers, right?

Not necessarily. According to insurance companies, hitting fixed or stationary objects in parking lots is the most frequent type of accident. What many truckers don’t realize is that these types of accidents can be worse financially than a bigger accident, because they don’t meet insurance deductibles. Consequently, all or most of the cost is borne by the trucker.

Even though speeds in parking lots are slow, because of the size and weight of a heavy-duty truck, considerable damage can be done when it strikes a fixed or stationary object. Repairs, which necessitate unplanned downtime, can be costly.

What’s more, regardless of the severity, nobody wants the embarrassment of an easily preventable accident on his or her record.

To avoid collisions with fixed or stationary objects when traveling in parking lots, safety officials advise:

  • Go slowly and take your time. A crash will undo all your haste.
  • Remain aware of your surroundings.
  • When making a tight maneuver or backing up, and you’re not certain about what is around your truck, get out and look. It’s always better to err on the side of caution.
  • Watch for taillights and reverse lights.
  • If so equipped, make sure your backup warning alarm is functioning properly.
  • Use extra care in rainy, snowy or foggy conditions.

Backing

Backing, whether in a parking lot or elsewhere, has its own set of risks. To reduce the frequency and exposure of these accidents, follow these safe-backing procedures recommended by safety officials:

  • Keep the backing distance to a minimum.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for someone’s help when backing, if needed. Use hand signals both of you have agreed upon. Keep in mind that even with a spotter, the driver is responsible for any backing accident.
  • Do a walkaround to get a firsthand view of the backing area and look for any limitations, hazards, obstructions and any other potential clearance-related problems.
  • After finishing the walkaround, don’t delay. Return to your vehicle and start backing. This will allow very little time for people and/or obstacles to enter the space behind your vehicle.
  • Use your four-way flashers and tap the horn a couple of times just prior to backing to notify others in the area that your vehicle is backing up.
  • Back slowly and cautiously, and maintain complete control of your vehicle.

Preventable

The vast majority of backing accidents are preventable, note safety officials. By exercising proper care, hitting a fixed or stationary object is always preventable.

The bottom line: When it comes to parking lots, always remain alert; never let your guard down. Constantly be on the lookout for unsafe conditions, even when entering and exiting a parking lot.

Preventing Truckstop Accidents

Be aware that a large percentage of truck parking lot accidents occur at truckstops, because of the large volume of trucks in close proximity and the constant activity. It is wise to preplan your route, so you know you will be stopping at a location with plenty of room and one that is well lit.

TA-Petro truckstops, for example, feature ample parking areas. Virtually all are paved, well-lit lots using diagonal pull-in/pull-out parking.

Following are some best practices to stay protected and avoid a parking lot accident at truckstops:

  • Park at the very back end of the lot to avoid heavy traffic. Most in and out traffic is concentrated in the front third of the lot, because many truckers try to park as close to the buildings as possible.
  • Avoid parking on the end of a row because this is a high-traffic area.
  • Avoid a spot that you will have to back out of to leave. Whenever possible, pick a spot you can pull through. Backing into a parking space is another option, but exert extra caution when doing so.
  • Avoid parking in a location where the trucks across from you will have to back out of their parking spots.
  • Park with your rig straight to reduce the chances of being hit by another rig that is parking beside you.
  • Use your four-ways when pulling through a parking lot and backing. This increases your chances of being seen.

Following these guidelines and suggestions will help you avoid the embarrassment of tangling with a fixed object or another truck in a parking lot, not to mention the costs and lost time.

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