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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What are some rules regarding right of way ettiquette in a private parking lot like at a shopping center with cars backing up and cars driving between rows?

And, the bigger question:
Do right of way laws even apply in a parking lot?
 

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in a parking lot, a car backing out of or pulling into a spot must ALWAYS yield to through traffic. so if you've got a beat up clunker and fancy yourself a new set of wheels at the expense of insurance companies, plow into some old woman pulling out of a parking space. it's her fault regardless...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
TrekFan said:
in a parking lot, a car backing out of or pulling into a spot must ALWAYS yield to through traffic. so if you've got a beat up clunker and fancy yourself a new set of wheels at the expense of insurance companies, plow into some old woman pulling out of a parking space. it's her fault regardless...
Always?

Regardless of speed or is there a speed limit in a private parking lot?
 

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Of course if someone...

TrekFan said:
in a parking lot, a car backing out of or pulling into a spot must ALWAYS yield to through traffic. so if you've got a beat up clunker and fancy yourself a new set of wheels at the expense of insurance companies, plow into some old woman pulling out of a parking space. it's her fault regardless...
happens to read these posts and links you to them you won't collect one red cent. You'll be prosecuted for fraud and likely pay a hefty fine and might do some jail time.
 

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tphenom said:
Always?

Regardless of speed or is there a speed limit in a private parking lot?
well always is a strong term. doesn't take into account excessive speeding, drunk driving, etc. but GENERALLY, yes, that's the case. someone entering and exiting a parking space must yield the right of way to through traffic.
 

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fred3 said:
happens to read these posts and links you to them you won't collect one red cent. You'll be prosecuted for fraud and likely pay a hefty fine and might do some jail time.
agreed, and well they should be prosecuted and do some jail time. my comments were more tongue in cheek than anything else. i live in new jersey, home of the highest insurance rates in the country by a wide margin, so the reality is that this is NO laughing matter...
 

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Most states have a few limited appications of state traffic laws in parking lots that are "open to the public". They usually consist of "failure to back with safety", "reckless driving", "DWI", and oddly "excessive noise with a motor vehicle". These are the most common to most states.

The pavement lane markings, stop signs, and other traffic control devices in these same parking lots are usually not enforceable under state traffic laws, but obviously they have strong impact on the civil liability of a driver who ignores them and injures someone or damages property. Most states require bicycles to adhere to the same traffic laws as other vehicles...where they logically apply of course. Most of us won't get cited for "defective exhaust system"...unless we got a bad batch of burritos at Taco Bell.
 

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Always is a rather strong word to use for a place that presents do many unsforseeable situations as a parking lot. Having the right of way is a whole lot different than taking the right of way regardless of circumstance. Just because you have the right of way, doesn't mean you have the right to take it, if it's obvious that doing so is likely to cause an accident. If you're driving down a lane in a parking lot, and a car is backing out from behind a van where they have an obstructed view, it is not your right to abuse your right of way privledges, plow into them, lay on the horn, play chicken, or scream like a maniac. In situations such as I described, you have the right to use your brakes and stop. Right of way is not an absolute right. It is a guideline to be followed under most cirumstances.
 

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In my experience if you hit somebody or something with the front of your car it is usually your fault. Unless the person you hit ran a red light or had a stop sign or was making a left turn across your lane of travel. In a parking lot your are supposed to be moving so slow that if somebody pulled out of a space and you hit them with the FRONT of your car it's most likely your fault. However if you are in the same lot driving and they hit you on the SIDE of your car then it's there fault. However in general right of way goes to the person driving down the aisle over the person backing or pulling out from a space.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
First a couple of definitions from my own state (California) vehicle code:

Right-of-way" is the privilege of the immediate use of the highway.

"Highway" is a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. Highway includes street.

OK, so the parking lot is not a highway. It is private property. Even the stop signs in a parking lot are not the same as on the highways and public roads. They're there as controls just like directional arrows on the pavement.

Right of way and rules of the road do not apply in parking lots. Instead there is only common sense and ettiquette. You can't assume that just because you are moving forward and traveling between rows you have "right of way". What about the guy who's already started backing up before you've turned up the row and started to move past him?

As an example of assumptions, today I was stopped at a "stop sign" in a private lot with my indicator blinking for a left turn and then as I started my turn a car that was still only approaching the opposite stop limit line simply rolled his right turn without stopping and then found himself directly in my path and had to stop and wait.

Did he violate a traffic law? No. But in any language or society he did violate his turn in line. He jumped the line, took a cut, couldn't wait his turn, committed a social error but still his impatience would not earn a ticket from the local constable.

It seems silly how you can be backed up halfway out of space and someone will barrel down on you thinking they're totally in the right instead of giving you the chance to finish the manuever you started before they even came into view.

Also, police don't make accident (property damage) reports on collisions that happen in private parking lots. That ought to be a clue.
 

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tphenom said:
First a couple of definitions from my own state (California) vehicle code:

Right-of-way" is the privilege of the immediate use of the highway.

"Highway" is a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. Highway includes street.

OK, so the parking lot is not a highway. It is private property. Even the stop signs in a parking lot are not the same as on the highways and public roads. They're there as controls just like directional arrows on the pavement.

Right of way and rules of the road do not apply in parking lots. Instead there is only common sense and ettiquette. You can't assume that just because you are moving forward and traveling between rows you have "right of way". What about the guy who's already started backing up before you've turned up the row and started to move past him?

As an example of assumptions, today I was stopped at a "stop sign" in a private lot with my indicator blinking for a left turn and then as I started my turn a car that was still only approaching the opposite stop limit line simply rolled his right turn without stopping and then found himself directly in my path and had to stop and wait.

Did he violate a traffic law? No. But in any language or society he did violate his turn in line. He jumped the line, took a cut, couldn't wait his turn, committed a social error but still his impatience would not earn a ticket from the local constable.

It seems silly how you can be backed up halfway out of space and someone will barrel down on you thinking they're totally in the right instead of giving you the chance to finish the manuever you started before they even came into view.

Also, police don't make accident (property damage) reports on collisions that happen in private parking lots. That ought to be a clue.
you see, now in new jersey this would be handled by following him and taking a baseball bat to his windshield...
 

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I was backing out of a parking spot once at the supermarket and then after I was 3/4 of the way out of my spot a lady started backing out of a spot across from me and wedged her car in the little bit of open space there was and then before I could stop my car struck hers. Because of the fact that My car made the contact with hers it was ruled my fault because I couldnt prove that I was backing out first and of course the store security cameras dont cover the side lot only the main parking lot. Then the lady had the nerve to say she had neck pains from this 1mph crash and if she went to the doctor my insurance was going to have to cover that too. My rates went up shortly there after and I (not to make this sound like a commercial) switched to Geico and saved about $150 a year.
 
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