Do You Have Right of Way When Backing Out of a Parking Space in Texas?
We’ve all been there. Busy parking lot, and you’re in a hurry to get to where you’re going. But so is everyone else these days. Parking lot accidents are pretty common, but do you actually have the right of way when backing out of a parking space in Texas?
The answer is, it depends.
Most larger parking lots have two types of driving lanes, commonly known as thoroughfares and feeder lanes. Thoroughfares are lanes that let out to a street or access road. Feeder lanes are the smaller lanes inside a parking lot between the rows of parked cars. If you’re driving on a thoroughfare, you have the right of way. If you’re backing out of a parking space, you have to yield to anyone driving in the feeder lane.
If you’re backing out and you hit a parked car, you will most likely be found 100% at fault in the accident. If you are backing out and you hit a car that is driving through the feeder lane, you may not be at fault. For instance, if you were already halfway backed out, and a car comes zipping down the feeder lane and hits you, (T-bone) most likely, the other driver will be found to be mostly at fault, because you were already in the feeder lane. However, if you back into a moving car in the feeder lane, you will likely be found at fault.
In the rare occasion that you start backing out at the same time another driver on the opposite side of the feeder lane backs up and you collide, you will probably both be considered 50% at fault. In Texas, under the proportionate responsibility statute, if you are found more than 51% at fault, you are barred from any and all recovery for damages.
Parking Lot Rules
The best way to avoid a parking lot accident is to obey a few simple rules.
Know When to Yield
Drivers in the feeder lanes must yield to drivers in the thoroughfare.
Drivers backing out of parking spaces must yield to drivers in the feeder lanes. Do not assume a driver in the feeder lane will slow down or stop for you to leave the parking space. You must wait until traffic clears, or a driver does stop and waves you on before continuing to back out.
When two drivers are going for the same parking spot, the driver making a turn across the oncoming lane of traffic must yield.
Be sure to yield to pedestrians, whether they are in a crosswalk or not.
- Don’t ever tailgate the vehicle in front of you. Be sure to give yourself enough room from the car in front of you so if they slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian, you don’t rear end them.
- Don’t text and drive. Texting while driving is illegal in Texas, and you could be charged with distracted driving.
- Don’t speed. The speed limit for parking lots is 15 mph, unless otherwise posted.
- Watch out for pedestrians. Back out slowly and check your blind spot. Children are especially at risk of pedestrian accidents in parking lots, so keep a sharp eye out for them.
Follow Parking Lot Etiquette
You should only park in designated parking spaces. Generally, if you hit a parked vehicle, you are liable. However, this might not be true if the car or motorcycle you hit was parked somewhere other than a designated parking spot.
Plus, you could get a parking ticket for parking in the wrong spot, such as a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.
What to Do If You’re in a Parking Lot Accident
If an accident occurs, make sure you exchange insurance information with the other driver. Get their driver’s license number, car make and model, and contact information. If anyone was injured, call the police to get an official report of what happened. You may want to take photos of the scene, and get contact information for witnesses, just like you would if this were an accident out on the road. If you were injured in the accident, be sure to seek the advice of a Dallas car accident lawyer to see what your options are.
Talk to Experienced Pintas & Mullins, a Dallas car accident law firm, for Free
Speaking to one of our experienced Dallas car accident lawyers is free and could very well be the best decision you make after your accident. We can meet with you in our office, your home, or your hospital room — whatever is convenient for you.