I tend to get annoyed at people who seemingly can’t park between the stripes in a parking lot, and get some degree of satisfaction when the Downtown Toledo Parking Authority leaves a warning notice on their cars’ windshields urging them to straighten out.
I was a bit perturbed, therefore, when I returned to my car on a recent evening to find one of those notes pinned by one of my wipers. But it turned out to be related to a rule that, while I’ve seen posted in garages and parking lots elsewhere, seems unwritten in Toledo.
Checked was the box next to “DO NOT BACK into spaces. Rear of vehicle must face the drive-lane aisle.”
First things first: I didn’t back in. I pulled through from a space in the opposite row. But the reason behind the rule is not the chance that one might make other drivers wait while backing into a parking space, I learned when I called the parking authority for a what-for.
Nope, they don’t want vehicles facing out toward the access aisles because they want all vehicles facing the same way. Dan Fortinberry, the parking authority’s executive director, said it’s a fire-safety thing: should a parked car’s engine catch fire -- a rare event, but it does happen -- it’s desirable for other cars’ gas tanks to be as far away from the flames as possible.
He also said that, contrary to what you might think, a car exiting a parking spot front-wise, rather than backing out, is statistically more dangerous. That’s because drivers, on average, are less careful when they pull straight out from a parking spot than they are when backing.
I’d probably ask to see the numbers on that, but the fire-safety explanation is good enough for me. I’ll just hope that, by the time I get to the garage each evening, cars in the opposite row are already gone so I don’t have to back out -- which to me is definitely less safe than pulling forward, especially with the speeds some people drive in the Vistula garage when they’re going home.
Maybe it’s time for a radar trap in there, Mr. Fortinberry?