Parking Out, Muddling Through

Some years ago, I received an email from a reader with an interesting question.  My memory is a bit faulty, but I’ll try to reproduce it as accurately as possible below.

“When driving to the store, do you ever pull through the space?  That way you’d be ready to GO if the situation ever turned TACTICAL and HOT!”

What my anonymous reader was asking isn’t immediately clear for most, but I took it to be a question as to how I park my car when going about my usual daily routine.  It appears that he was interested to find out if I parked with the front bumper facing the aisle, or if I parked with the front bumper nestled against an obstruction.

cars in parking spaces

The picture above is a good illustration.  The car on the left is situated with the front against a cinderblock wall.  The driver will have to put the car into reverse, and carefully back out of the parking space before he can even think about leaving the parking lot.

The car on the right is placed so the front bumper is facing the aisle.  All the driver has to do is start the engine and put the car into gear before he can simply drive away.

It is certainly easier to avoid backing up before leaving the parking lot, but why would the author of the question be so concerned about how I park my car when buying dog food and peanut butter?  Apparently he thinks I should be constantly concerned about making a fast getaway in case a vicious gunfight should erupt in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot!

sean penn firing tommy gun in movie gangster squad

Is this a legitimate fear?  Should I worry about rival gangs shooting it out amongst the inert cars at my local shopping center?

Although it is true that violence can suddenly spring upon anyone, at any place or any time, I think it is much more likely that I will have to foil a mugging or strong armed robbery than be caught up in a full-on gun battle.  The instances where a single mugger approaching someone while armed with a Saturday Night Special are very infrequent as it is.  The chances of finding myself in a war zone here in Columbus, Ohio are even more remote.

What is the bottom line?  If my reader lives in an area where massive gun battles are relatively common, then I would suggest that he have his groceries delivered.

9 Responses to “Parking Out, Muddling Through”

  1. daniels says:

    There’s another reason: safety.

    It’s safer to pull past your intended parking spot so that you can visually inspect it before backing in. Additionally, when leaving you can see any obstacles (animals, small children, etc) that may have come into your path while you were getting into the car.

    Many employers require their employees to use pull-through or back-in parking for these exact reasons.

    • James Rummel says:

      Good point!

    • AlanDP says:

      That’s what I was going to say. It’s easier and safer to back into a spot than to back out of one. Just a very basic defensive driving technique. I always either pull through or back in.

      • dustydog says:

        That’s simply not true. If a space is surrounded on 3 sides by cars, backing in requires you to put a big vehicle in a small space backwards.

        Backing out always lets you put your big vehicle into a bigger space. The driving lane always has more room than a single parking space.

        • SinEater says:

          I have to take issue with this statement. Backing in will involve dealing with a known set of obstacles and very rarely will you be required to back into a spot with moving objects on any side of the parking spot. Backing out, on the other hand, involves moving into the flow of traffic and your view will always be obstructed to an extent when backing your vehicle. Regardless of the volume of space you are injecting your vehicle into, moving into a known empty spot with non-moving objects surrounding that spot will be safer than moving into a slightly larger volume with moving traffic and pedestrians and shopping carts or what-have-you.
          Additionally, it is much easier to see if some object is in your way through the windshield than it is through the back window or through the side windows. I drive a pickup truck now but have had vans and cars and frankly the number of times I have had wind blow or some lazy shopper put a cart in the way of me getting out of a space or had a little kid run after a ball or dog or whatever would terrify me if I was only allowed to park with my rear facing traffic.

  2. I always back into spaces unless I can pull through. I figure that if I have to back up, better to back up into a small area that isn’t likely to suddenly have traffic in it than to back up into the aisle where someone might hit me.

    It doesn’t matter what happened, if you get hit while you’re backing out of a space, you’re going to get blamed.

  3. dustydog says:

    I know of at least one industrial chemical factory that requires people to park face-out. In case of an emergency, they want to be able to evacuate immediately and orderly.

  4. jon spencer says:

    I generally park in the no-ding zone, which is away from the stores entrance.
    Very seldom is there another car next, in front of or behind me and at the stores that I frequent these parking spots have a light overhead for the very infrequent night shopping run too.

  5. Fruitbat44 says:

    British military practice is to reverse into a slot, though I suspect this may be more to do with road safety issues than tactical ones i.e. reserving out into traffic.

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