Danville Express

Perspective - August 3, 2007

Parking lot danger

Auto fatalities may be rare in parking lots, but fender benders are not. The accident in front of Trader Joe's last week involving an 82-year-old man did take place while he was allegedly under the influence of alcohol so, hopefully, it is an exception. But this parking lot is one of the most congested in the area, with several businesses designed for customers who will only stay a short while - the post office and Starbucks to name two. And its pedestrians are not only the people from the cars but during certain times of the day include students from nearby San Ramon Valley High School.

The Lunardi's parking lot involves a sharp right turn to enter from the driveway at Church Street to the lot while drivers are pulling out their vehicles directly into the line of traffic. Luckily there are safer entrances to this lot if cars are approaching south on Railroad Avenue and can turn in a half block before the supermarket. The lot on the south side near Peet's is almost as congested as the lot at Trader Joe's.

The Alamo Safeway shopping center lot is blessedly large but that brings its own problems as vehicles tend to speed down the open passages. Many drivers instead of parking in the first available space often cruise the lanes directly in front of Safeway until they find a close spot. Frustration can mount if that spot has a shopping cart sticking out into it.

Parking lots have always been prime places for accidents, with folks backing in and out of parking spots, and pedestrians all over the place. With the advent of sports utility vehicles, they have become truly dangerous - especially for those not driving SUVs. In a large lot, parking on the edge may be the answer: People can avoid driving the hazardous route, plus get some exercise. In a small lot, there aren't many choices.

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