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Always do this one thing before leaving the parking lot

Published January 29, 2013
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Many corporate driving safety rules require an employee to do what is known as a “circle check” on the company vehicle before they drive away. This is to check for any obvious safety issues with the vehicle or any unreported damage. The driver should be inspecting the tires, lug nuts, lights etc. to be sure they are safe or in working order. Depending on the vehicle type and the company, these inspections can be quick and easy or more time consuming. Either way, it is better than no inspection at all.

The question is, should all motorists do a pre-trip inspection of their personal vehicle?

The answer is “yes”.

More: What not to do when making a left turn

More: Breaking down the four big driving sins

A simple walk around your vehicle can let you know if your tire pressure is dangerously low. However, a pressure check using a gauge will tell you more accurately if air needs to be added. A visual check will show a soft tire that is dangerously low on pressure. If you can see the lug nuts, look to see if they are all still on or loose. While looking at the tires, look for debris, toys or articles around the car that could do damage if you were to reverse or drive over it. Motorists have backed up over their children’s bikes and toys many times. Tragically there are cases of motorists reversing over young children that a simple circle check may have caught.

Motorists should also check to see if all of the vehicle’s lights are still operational. Simply turning on the headlights will tell you if they all work. Activating the four-way flashers will let you know if all the turn signals are working. Ask your passenger to step on the brake pedal while you stand behind the vehicle to see if the brake lights all work. If no help is available, simply apply the brake pedal while the rear of the vehicle faces a wall or store front that will reflect any lights.

In winter we should be clearing all the snow off our vehicles and while doing this a simple check of your car can be done at the same time.

This circle check is also an excellent time to look and see if anyone has damaged your vehicle while it has been parked.

It is not uncommon these days for motorists to hit another vehicle in a parking lot or on the street and leave without leaving their information. Recently this happened to a family member of mine whose car was hit in a parking lot. She didn’t notice until later in the day (see photo above).

A simple walk around the vehicle before she left the lot would have revealed the damage. This can make reporting the damage easier for insurance.

This particular incident happened at Pearson Airport in the employees parking lot. From the visible damage this was not a hit that went unnoticed by the offending motorist. It is a shame that few people will still do the right thing and take responsibility for their actions. The right thing to do would be to report it to the parking lot authority and leave the information with them or on the vehicle.

Think about doing your own “circle check” before you drive off. It can add to your safety and let you know if you have been a victim already.

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