Go With the Flow: How to Ace Traffic Control in Parking Lots.
Whether you’re overseeing the parking lot at your company’s facilities, or you’re looking for solutions for event-based parking such as concerts, festivals, sporting events, trade shows, and rallies, knowing how to safely and effectively manage the flow of traffic is essential. And by far the greatest concern is customer and employee safety.
A recent CBS News report states that 1 in 5 accidents occur in parking lots. And the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that two thirds of drivers are distracted when driving in parking lots and common parking areas, with 60,000 injuries and 500 deaths happening in lots and garage accidents each year.
In fact, respondents to a recent NSC poll indicates just how distracted drivers in parking lots really are, saying they would:
- Program GPS systems (63%)
- Text (56%)
- Use social media (52%)
- Send or receive emails (50%)
- Take photos or watch videos (49%)
You also have to handle the frustrations many drivers experience in garages and lots, particularly when dealing with event-based parking. A survey published in Successful Event Management revealed that 48% of attendees of a recent festival thought post-event congestion was a major problem, with 27% stating that the problem also existed before the event, too.
With all that in mind, what can YOU do to keep your employees, customers and guests both safe and happy with the parking lot service you provide? Well, let’s start with the most common kinds of parking lots and scenarios that you may have to deal with.
Parking Lots, Garages, and Pop-Up Events.
Not all lots are created equal, and the problems/solutions available differ based on the kind of lot or garage you’re dealing with.
- Single Level Lots and Garages
The most common type of parking lot commonly employed by businesses, events, retail stores, sports stadiums and apartment communities. These lots have a set number of allocated spots, often with areas for compact cars, and the mandatory handicapped spaces. They are either free, require an access pass, or need to be paid for in advance via a kiosk or through a website or app.
- Multi-Level Lots and Garages
Much like single level lots, but with the added complexity of multiple levels. Common at airports, apartments, and shopping centers, the need for highly-visible signage here is even more important to ensure vehicles are guided through the lot safely, and that customers can quickly find their vehicle when returning to it.
- Pop-Up and Temporary Parking Lots
If you’ve ever been to a concert, trade show or other event, you’ll know all about the “pop-up” parking lots. They can be anything from a paved area with taped-off spaces, to grass and dirt lots that require event staff to guide you to a space. Usually requiring a cash-in-hand payment, they can be difficult to manage due to the temporary nature of the space and the attendees who want to quickly find a space and get to their event.
- Automated Parking
Much more sophisticated, but far less common, are the fully automated parking systems that are very popular in crowded cities. Here, parking spaces are much smaller as the robotic attendants can park vehicles with pinpoint accuracy. Another advantage is they require zero staff, but initial set-up costs and maintenance are high.
- Valet Parking
Valet parking can utilize most of the options listed above but take a lot of the issues of distracted driving and customer error out of the picture. Here, with trained valets, cars can be parked without the fear of accidents and poor parking jobs. The valets usually require a tip, but this comes at the customer’s expense.
How to Make Your Parking Lot a Beacon of Safety and Efficiency
If your parking lot relies on customers to park their own cars safely, you need to stay on top of wayfinding, traffic control, signage, and much more to ensure a smooth and successful parking operation every time.
By far the most important part of traffic control is signage. Without a good-quality signage system you’re setting yourself up for failure. When taking into account signage and wayfinding, your signs must be:
- LEGIBLE: Don’t use fancy fonts, and don’t choose symbols that are confusing or easily misinterpreted. Choose sans serif fonts, simple and common symbols, arrows, and numbers, and ensure it can be read from afar.
- NOTICEABLE: If customers can’t see them, they can’t obey them. Put all signage at heights that are easily read both in and out of the vehicle and choose colors that pop. Reflective/LED signage is also recommended.
- UNIVERSAL: Not everyone speaks English. Take language out of the equation and use pictures, numbers and symbols wherever possible.
- SUBSTANTIAL: Consider the wind, rain, snow and other weather conditions, especially if your parking lot is not covered and is susceptible to all the elements. Signage should be able to withstand high winds, should be visible in poor conditions (snow, fog, pouring rain, after dark) and should be built to last years. Pay more for high-quality signage now, not cheap replacements year after year.
How customers get their vehicles to the parking spot is just as important as the parking space itself. To minimize accidents, designate separate entrances and exits (clearly marked), ensure the parking spaces and lanes are clearly marked, and consider using speed bumps, parking curbs and bollards for additional safety and clarity.
Crucial for parking after hours, or in multi-level garages and other covered lots, bright lighting is a must. Not only does it make finding a spot easier, it also makes customers feel safer, particularly when entering or leaving a lot late at night and personal security is a concern. Choose wired lighting (including stop/go lighting), solar lighting, and additional lights above signage.
SAFE WALKING AREAS
The drivers of the vehicles need adequate space to get to and from their cars and trucks, so make sure you have plenty of safe, clear walkways that are clearly marked. You may want to add bollards and separate these areas to make customers and employees feel more secure. And add signage advising drivers to slow down around pedestrians and to watch out for people crossing.
Anyone staffing your parking lot should be given everything they need to be visible, safe and comfortable. Provide reflective vests and PPE, flashlights, emergency equipment, additional clothing for poor weather, and booths/chairs if the attendant will be manning the lot for many hours at a time.
Snow happens. So does hail, heavy rain, and leaves in fall. Be prepared for it all by having equipment at hand to deal with the elements, including snow shovels, snow blowers, leaf blowers, brooms, and all-weather mats.
With these measures in place, you should be able to create a safe, efficient parking lot for guests, customers, and employees at all times. And if you need any assistance in either planning a new lot, or maintaining/upgrading your current lot, please contact the experts at Global Industrial who have decades of experience in this arena.
 CBS News [Link]
 NSC [Link]
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