Top Tips for Driving and Parking on Black Friday
While Black Friday shopping may bring the most extreme deals, the traffic and parking situations can be a nightmare. Parking spaces are limited, people always seem to be in a rush to get to the next stop and distractions are aplenty. But with a little planning and smart thinking, you may be able to prevent unnecessary added stress. When you head out to tackle your holiday shopping this year, remember these Black Friday traffic and parking tips.
Plan Your Route Before You Go
Checking out the sales ads and figuring out where you need to go before leaving your house can keep your day moving smoothly. U.S. News and World Report suggests planning a driving route based on what time stores open and their locations in relation to each other. If you aren’t bouncing from one side of town to the other all day, you may be able to maximize your shopping time and get done earlier so you only have to deal with a few hours of traffic on Black Friday.
It also doesn’t hurt to stay close to home, if you can. Consumer Reports notes that prices for items like name-brand TVs and their accessories only differ by a few dollars from one electronics chain to the other. That means you may be able to shop at the store closest to your home without missing out on a huge deal. But if you want to quickly compare prices, Consumer Reports suggests using the ShopSavvy, ShopKick or RedLaser smartphone apps. These can show you special deals before you go and allow you to scan an item in the store to see if another place has it for much cheaper.
Take Advantage of Map Apps
With so many cars on the road and drivers looking to get places before the hot items are out of stock, problems can arise. But, according to the New York Times, there are smartphone apps you can download to show you where you will find heavy traffic areas, accidents, closed roads and construction.
Some of the more well-known of these are Google Maps and Waze, but there are also other apps, such as Inrix Traffic, that can actually help you predict delays. Inrix can tell you what the traffic may look like along your in the next 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes so you know which is the best route to take and what areas to avoid. The app bases these predictions on things like special events that could cause traffic or accidents and their cleanup time. Using any one of these apps may help you avoid clogged-up areas and unexpected delays so you are spending less time in the car and more time actually shopping.
According to USA Today, approximately 80 percent of all U.S car accidents accidents are related to distracted drivers. On a day when traffic is heavy and people are probably in a rush and flustered, the last thing you need is an accident. USA Today suggests putting cell phones away and leaving the radio dial alone. And just in case other drivers around you are more distracted than usual, remember to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you and use your signals to let others know where you are going. This is a smart practice for everyday driving, but can be especially important on the busy roads of Black Friday.
Park With Care
Parking can be one of the biggest hassles on the biggest shopping day of the year. Between cars fighting over spots, jam-packed lots and narrow aisles, Black Friday parking is an accident waiting to happen. But by remembering these simple tips from Parking.org, you can practice extra caution and perhaps prevent major problems:
- Back out slowly and carefully: Backing up causes 25 percent of parking lot accidents in the U.S. each year. Use a back-up camera if you have one, and always look around all sides of your vehicle while slowly inching out of your spot.
- Be especially aware of children: Small children can be difficult to see outside of your car, so when backing out or pulling into a spot, look to see if they are getting in or out of the car parked in the next spot. When driving down the aisle, it’s a good idea to go slowly so you can react quickly if a child runs out from a car.
- Park at a distance: If you park farther away from the door, there are often fewer cars vying for spots. Plus, it might give you a quicker and easier exit when you leave.
- Be a considerate driver: Take shopping carts to their designated areas and don’t leave them in parking spots or the middle of the aisle. When parking, make sure you are centered in the lines and do not block other spaces while waiting for a spot.
With so many people out on the road the day after Thanksgiving, you may run into some unexpected hassles — no matter how well you plan. While you can’t predict what Black Friday traffic will look like, if you remember these tips and take the necessary precautions, things may go a little more smoothly.