Parking lot rage: Why so furious?

April 30, 2014

We’ve all heard about road rage, but parking rage is just as common. Over 10% of respondents in a survey admitted to having gone to extreme measures to get a parking spot.

police in parking lot

10% of motorists are happy to commit extreme acts to nail down a parking spot. From Pat Pilon.

Recent spate of attacks in parking lots

Recently, a man named Christopher Heben was shot when he exchanged words with someone who nearly backed into him while leaving a parking spot. In March, a woman bit Tonya Knight-Joseph’s finger when she thought Knight-Joseph took a parking space that she should have had.

“She was yelling and screaming,” says Knight-Joseph. “She smacked me in my face. And somehow, my finger ends up in her mouth … And they said, ‘well that’s what you get for taking the parking spot.’”

In another case last December, Christine Beckwith was beaten by another woman over the way she parked her car. It was parked slightly crooked, and she said that she would move it.

Her assailant couldn’t wait. “The one [woman] had grabbed me and pushed me down to the trunk of her car and held me while the other girl punched me in the face and scratched my face and pulled my hair out,” says Beckwith.

Why do people lose it in parking lots?

“Parking lot fights are territorial disputes,” say Dr Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl. “There is kind of a self-centered mode some can enter, making them feel like their actions don’t have consequences,” says Dr. Robi Ludwig. “People feel anonymous in parking lots. You may feel more impulsive if you feel like nobody will catch you misbehaving, and of course that’s never true,” she remarks.

Parking rage is common in congested areas and during rush hour. The UK and cities like San Francisco have seen a larger number of parking scuffles. 64% of respondents in a survey found stealing a space from a driver waiting to park in it unpardonably infuriating.

Researchers at Penn State University found that driver took eleven seconds more to leave parking spots when there was another driver waiting, than when no one was there. Drivers who were honked at took even longer to vacate their spots. Researchers feel that this happens since the power struggle becomes important as drivers feel their territory is being encroached.

Although 80% of mall security resources are inside a mall, 80% of crimes happen in mall parking lots. Why, then, the mismatch? “[The mall is] protecting their assets inside, but the real assets are the customers, the employees. The assets when you are in the parking lot are still [the mall’s] responsibility,” says Tom Ciccone, a former mall security expert. Perhaps, courteous drivers need to remember to also be courteous parkers.

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Category: Miscellaneous

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