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Behind the Badge Parking lots are a Mecca for bad driving behavior

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Posted: Monday, February 14, 2011 12:00 am

Parking lots are the source of all sorts of police calls: thefts, vehicle burglaries, collisions, arguments, etc. Over the past couple of weeks, I think I have beaten a couple of those topics to death, so I'll just discuss the things that really irritate me and, I'm guessing, probably you too.

1. Big, huge pick-up trucks

I love big trucks, but if you are driving a one-ton extended cab 4x4 dually pick up truck, you will most likely not fit into a normal spot right at the front door of the store.

So please stop trying.

When you bought that truck, part of the loan agreement should have read, "I (state your name) will not attempt any parking maneuver in which I am incapable of making with anything more than a three-point turn. And, once parked, if I have to hold my door so I can barely squeeze my way out because it is hitting the car next to me, I shouldn't be parked there."

2. Shopping carts

Stores conveniently place shopping cart returns all over the parking lot. Empty parking spaces are not cart returns. Nothing irritates people more than seeing the one parking spot they want, racing to it like a kid to a Christmas tree, then quickly turning into it to beat the oncoming driver that is eyeing it, then BAM! "Who put that shopping cart there," you yell out, as if you have no blame for hitting the cart which sent it hurtling into another car.

3. Handicapped parking spots

If you are not disabled, and do not have a handicapped plate, stop parking in the handicapped spot. I know that sounds simple, but it happens on a regular basis.

I have contacted a number of people parked in handicapped spots, at which time I politely ask, "Do you have your handicapped placard?"

The typical response is, "I was just here for five minutes. I'm leaving now." Loosely translated, that means "I have no placard. I'm just lazy."

To those of you who only break the law for "five minutes" at a time — and believe me, there are a lot of you — it's still breaking the law.

(Oh yeah, another thing: If your car is illegally parked somewhere, and you are still in it, it still counts!)

Anyway, guess who the bad guy is when we hand them a parking ticket for being illegally parked in a handicapped spot (which by the way, runs to the tune of about $400)? And before you ask, there is no way to prorate the fine based on the amount of time you were parked there. So if you are there for five minutes or five hours, it's still about $400.

4. Reverse may not be your friend

If you are one of those people who doesn't do so well in reverse, and it takes you 10 minutes to back out of a parking spot on black Friday — not that there is anything wrong with being cautious — maybe you should consider alternative means of parking. For instance, park in a spot where you can pull through to the next spot, so when you leave, you just drive out. Reverse makes some people very uncomfortable, and that's OK, but doing what you're not so good at sometimes opens the door for accidents.

5. It's a parking lot, not a race track

Lastly, drive slow in parking lots. Some people turn into Mario Andretti once they enter the parking lot and see all the shiny stuff in the store window. I know there is no posted speed limit, so I'm going to help you out. Just drive slow! If you can't stop your car in a matter of a few feet, you are going too fast.

Kids can dart out between parked cars very quickly. That is not something I would want to live with, just because there was a door buster sale on the 55-inch LCD 3D TV with 14 HDMI ports and surround sound, and I wanted to get one before they were gone.

In closing, let's try to keep the parking lots safe, and less stressful than the total at the cash register. We shouldn't have to navigate an obstacle course getting into our favorite store.

Drive safe.

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