How to find a parking spot during the holidays

December 4, 2013

Fighting for a parking spot may be less dramatic than gladiatorial combat, but it can be just  as fierce, oftentimes turning deadly. The problem peaks during the holidays with flocks of shoppers hitting the stores, endangering pedestrians and motorists alike.

Target parking lot on Black Friday

Drivers hunt for the sweet spot near Target on Black Friday. Image by MIKECNY

With over 38 million holiday travelers hitting the roads between Wednesday and Sunday — all looking for parking at one time or another — things are bound to turn hectic. But not for you. With just a little pre-planning, use of technology, and basic parking etiquette, you can get in and out of the holiday rush with more ease than your fierce counterparts.

Put technology to good use

  • Before you consider what goodies a store sells, look at the kind of parking it offers. A lot of retail stores and restaurants display their parking facilities on their website, so you can decide in the advance where you should visit and where you should avoid.
  • Get your Smartphone to work for you. Look for nearby parking spots and garages using apps that save you time, money, and gas, as Mashable suggests. Consider crowdsourcing parking tools such as Anagog that tells users, not only where the open spots are but also which spots will soon open up. 
  • Incorrectly estimating how long you’ll be away can result in a sprint to the meter, only to find your car ticketed or towed away. Sign up for pay-by-phone parking options. Cities with smart meters allow drivers to feed and reefed meters using their Smartphone. Some great apps like Parkmobile also give you a warning when your time on the meter is up.

Park far away from the store

  • Research reveals that most malls fill only 30 to 35 percent of capacity, except on Black Friday and Christmas Eve. It also tells us that shoppers in a rush hate walking. Use other people’s laziness to your advantage. Parking far away from the store gives you much-needed exercise. If you’re worried about forgetting where you parked, take a picture of your car that shows you where you parked, or consider these nifty apps!

Don’t lose your cool

  • Although cities may bend some rules to accommodate for the parking rush, drivers still need to heed the regs. Remember to obey street signs and buckle up. Avoid any kind of argument or road rage – remind yourself that winter is a time to be less irritable! Lastly, always slow down once you enter a parking lot.

Park safely to prevent theft and pedestrian accidents

  • Park in a well-lit area and stay alert on your way to and from your car. Hide expensive belongings and shopping in the trunk or under the seat where they are not visible. Visible merchandise in your car is an invitation to thieves. Of course, roll up the windows and lock up your car.
  • Avoid parking between tall vehicles, which can block your sight as you back out. While pulling in and out of a parking spot, look for pedestrians and children who may move in between parked cars – pedestrian accidents increase by high numbers during the holidays. “Experts say about 80 percent of pedestrian accidents in parking lots are the driver’s fault,” reports NBCWashington.

Shawn Conrad, executive director of the International Parking Institute (IPI), says, “Allowing a little extra time to park during the holidays may be the best strategy of all.”

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Category: Miscellaneous

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