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Driver’s guide: parking do’s and don’ts – News

The slower parts of driving and parking etiquette are equally important parts of car ownership

By George Kuruvilla

Published: Thu 3 March 2022, 20:17

It might not occur to most of us, but we only drive our vehicles about 10% of the time we own them. The remaining 90% is spent outside the vehicle, where it is left parked in our basement or on another lot. And by this simple logic, it is necessary to talk about the different aspects of the very ignored subject.

Parking is difficult

Undoubtedly, parking is a difficult skill for some to master. And it can be as nerve-wracking as braving Monday morning frenetic traffic. Heading into a slot – about 20 per cent larger than the vehicle itself – isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. And who can blame them? There are so many types, and different vehicle sizes and traffic conditions add to the complexity of the whole maneuver. First, you have parallel parking, which even the most seasoned drivers don’t give a damn about, especially during traffic hours. In fact, they even coined a term for the fear of parallel parking, it’s called “parallel phobia.” Then you have garage parking, which can also be intimidating, simply because not everyone lives in a villa with large open spaces, but instead has to park between pillars. And the third is corner parking… which is the easiest of the three.

Parking can also be difficult as we live in a city with a high number of cars per capita. And it is sometimes difficult to find a free place. Even at the Dubai Mall, with its multi-storey car parks with an incredible 14,500 parking spaces, it can take up to 30-45 minutes to find one on a weekend. And that is why it is equally important to know the layouts of these giant concrete structures. If you have something to buy quickly, it is better to know the entry and exit points, as well as the location of the stores.

Things not to do

Perhaps the number one rule of parking is don’t take up more than one space. Quite regularly we see cars taking two, mostly by luxury car or large SUV owners. Remember, if you take two, someone else loses one. And in a fast-paced city, where people are always on the move, they may end up wasting time, money, job opportunity, business, etc.

Second on the list is the malicious act of stealing spots. It may not be a punishable offence, but it is against all ethical codes. The other night I saw a woman drive in and stand in place while another motorist tried to pull over. It was his way of saving the place, waiting for his friend to pass. That’s not how it works and we certainly shouldn’t encourage that kind of behavior. My suggestion is, if you’re in a hurry, ask nicely and the other person can let you have it.

We also have individual parking lots in spaces reserved for specific people or green vehicles. Don’t do this, even if your car is green in color.

Then we have the other problem of shopping carts. It’s a privilege to be able to deploy them from supermarkets in batches, but it’s also our responsibility to return them to designated areas, once done. Leaving them behind another person’s vehicle is bad, but leaving them free with the ability to roll into traffic lanes is worse.

There is also an unspoken label for “kacha” parking. It is better to imitate the layout of regular paved parking lots. This means you should park parallel to other vehicles, leaving a lane for people to enter and exit. And you should always make sure that the car next to you is not blocked in any way.

Tech in the parking lot

It’s great to see that the technology has also been put to good use in parking lots. The generic system used in most shopping centers displays the number of places taken and open. Some bundles may even highlight each individual dot with a green or red light depending on its status. In more advanced systems, like the one at BurJuman Mall, you don’t need to insert your parking ticket into the machine when exiting. The camera and AI system recognizes your plate number and opens the door if you have paid your time or leave within the time limit. And in the Dubai Mall, you can locate your vehicle using the electronic kiosk, which is essential considering the total number of places.

Paid parking

While we would all like to enjoy free parking throughout the city, this is not the case. That being said, Dubai is very affordable compared to cities like New York, London, and Zurich when it comes to parking fees. And the government has facilitated payment through multiple channels. You can pay by text, you can pay at the station with a Nol or credit card… or you can pay through the app which saves you a few wires.

One thing I don’t understand is why apartment buildings don’t have free parking spaces for visitors. One minute you think you’re going to a cousin’s for a fun weekend family brunch in Business Bay and the next you feel uninvited when you see the hourly rate of Dh25.

As futile as it may seem, paid parking in the form of valet parking can also be a way to get noticed. Having your Rolls-Royce or Bentley parked at the entrance of a fancy hotel or mall is one way to display your financial success.

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