Parking and Compliance

Do you pull into a parking space or back in? Does it matter? Do you need a rule?

The other day I pulled into a parking lot and saw one of these “head in parking only” signs. It bothered me. Why does it matter whether I parked with my headlights in or my taillights in?

Of course you need some order to a parking lot for it to function. You paint lines to designate where people can park and where they can’t park. If you are charging a fee, you need some way to collect the fee and enforce its payment. Maybe you paint some lines for traffic flow and to show people the way to the exit.

If the lot requires a window sticker to prove you are authorized to park in the lot, then it may make sense to require cars be in a certain direction. The enforcement personnel can then just patrol the lot, looking at the same place on each space to make sure the vehicle is authorized. You could also argue that it’s a bit lazy. Enforcement can look around the vehicle. After all, vehicles are all shapes and sizes. A window sticker on the back window of a station wagon is in a very different place than a pickup truck.

Why does it matter whether I back into the space or back out of the space? You have to take the time to back up either way.

I admit that I usually back into parking spaces. That is why the sign bothered me. I have my reasons for backing in. I have terrible lines of sight to the back of my truck and it’s very long. (Yes, I drive a pick up truck.) So parking takes more effort. I prefer to look into the space to make sure there are no obstacles, especially people, in the way, then swing around to back in. Yes, it takes longer getting in, but it would take just as long getting out. Backing out means I have to look for passing people and cars on the way out with poor vision. I think it’s safer to back in, instead of pulling in.

I’m pretty sure there are some lessons in here for a compliance professional.

  • Are there reasons for your rule?
  • Can you be flexible?
  • Are you making people do things just because it’s easier for you?
  • Does your rule reduces risks?

I’m sure there are more.


You’re Parking Wrong: Why it’s almost always better to back into a space than pull into it head-on by Tom Vanderbilt in Slate

A Question of Parking by Tom Vanderbilt in his How We Drive the companion blog to his New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)