The Importance of Parking Under or Near Light for Safety

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When you find yourself needing to go to a store at dusk, dawn, or after dark, one crucial safety measure to consider is where you park your car. Parking under or near light can significantly reduce the risks associated with navigating parking lots in low-light conditions. This article delves into why this simple strategy can make a substantial difference in your personal safety and how to effectively implement it in your daily routine.

The Element of Darkness

Darkness provides a cover for those with malicious intent. Although criminal activities can and do happen in broad daylight, the cover of darkness significantly increases the chances for criminals to go unnoticed. The bad guys generally do not want to be seen. The anonymity darkness can help provide can embolden wrongdoers, as the lack of visibility reduces the risk of being seen and subsequently caught.

The Role of Lighting in Safety

Visibility and Deterrence: One of the primary reasons why parking under or near a light is effective is because it increases visibility. Criminals generally prefer to operate in environments where they can remain unseen. Darkness can hide them as well as the actions they do not want to be seen doing. A well-lit area decreases the number of hiding spots and increases the likelihood of them being noticed, which in turn acts as a deterrent. If a potential criminal sees that there is a high probability of being seen and recognized, they are more likely to abandon their plan.

Psychological Comfort: Parking in a well-lit area not only deters criminals but also provides psychological comfort to the driver and passengers. Knowing that you are in a visible, well-illuminated spot can reduce anxiety and increase your overall sense of safety. This can be particularly important for those who may feel vulnerable, such as women traveling alone or elderly individuals.

Practical Tips for Parking Under or Near Light

Choose the Right Spot: When arriving at your destination, actively look for parking spaces that are directly under or near streetlights or parking lot lights. If possible, aim for spots that are also close to the entrance of the store or building you are visiting. This not only ensures you are in a well-lit area but also minimizes the distance you need to walk, further reducing exposure to potential danger.

Consider Parking Decks: In parking decks, it’s especially important to park near lights. Parking decks can be darker and more secluded than open lots, providing more opportunities for criminals to hide. Seek out spots that are under light fixtures and try to avoid isolated areas, especially those that are far from elevators, stairwells, or exits.

Avoid Isolated Areas: Even in a well-lit parking lot, avoid parking in isolated spots where there are fewer people around. The presence of other people can be a deterrent to criminals, as the chances of being seen and reported increase.

Stay Alert: Lighting is a significant factor in safety, but it is not a guarantee. Always stay alert to your surroundings. Avoid distractions such as looking at your phone while walking to and from your car. Being aware of your environment allows you to notice any unusual behavior or potential threats early on.

Carry Yourself with Intent: In additional to maintaining good situational awareness and paying attention to what is going on around you, carry yourself with purpose. As mentioned, stay off those phones when out in public. Walk with you head up and your shoulders back, look around and be observant. We want to portray and look with alertness and intent. You are generally less likely to be a victim if you do not look like one.

Plan Ahead: If you know you will be arriving at your destination after dark, plan ahead by considering where you will park. This might mean arriving a bit earlier to secure a good spot or choosing a location known for its good lighting and safety measures.

Flashlights: This is a good time to plug our post on flashlights as well. If you know you will be out near or after dark, a flashlight can come in super handy and give you extra piece of mind too.

Real-World Applications

Shopping Trips: When going to the grocery store or shopping mall, particularly during the winter months when it gets dark early, park as close to the entrance as possible and under a light. Carrying bags can make you less aware of your surroundings, so the less distance you have to cover, the better.

Events and Activities: After sporting events, concerts, or school plays, parking lots can become chaotic, and it might be difficult to find your car. Make a mental note of where you parked in relation to light sources and other land marks. If you’re attending an event that you know will end after dark, arrive early to ensure you get a good spot.

Work Commutes: If you work late hours or start early, park in well-lit areas of your company’s parking lot or garage. If your workplace doesn’t have adequate lighting, suggest improvements to your employer. Employee safety should be a top priority for any business.

The Transition Space: Parking Lots

Parking lots and decks are transition spaces where you are vulnerable. They are the areas where you move from the relative safety of your vehicle to the building you are entering and vice versa. These spaces can be riskier because they are semi-public and provide numerous hiding spots for potential attackers.

Quick Transitions: Minimize the time spent in parking lots by having your keys ready before you leave the building. This not only saves time but also allows you to quickly get into your car without fumbling at the door.

Buddy System: If possible, walk to your car with a friend or coworker. There is safety in numbers, and having someone with you can significantly reduce the risk of being targeted. One more way to be a hard(er) versus soft target.

Security Presence: In some larger parking lots, there may be security patrols. Whenever possible, park closer to these patrol areas or stations. The presence of security personnel can be a significant deterrent to crime.

Stay Away from Parked Vehicles: When moving through a parking lot of any sort, work to avoid walking in between vehicles as much as possible. Stay out in the main pathways. Additionally, never walk right up against the backs (or fronts) of parked vehicles to avoid being easier to grab. While you need to pay attention to any traffic in the lot, walk out away from vehicles to give yourself more space and a better vantage point to spot trouble early.

Additional Safety Measures

Self-Defense Tools: Consider carrying self-defense tools such as pepper spray or even a flashlight so you have both a light source or a potential impact weapon, if nothing else so you can look into your vehicle to ensure no one has gotten in it before you do. Ensure that you know how to use them properly and keep them easily accessible.

Vehicle Maintenance: Ensure your vehicle is in good working condition. A car that won’t start can leave you stranded in a potentially dangerous situation. Regular maintenance checks can help avoid these situations. Carry jumper cables and keep air in that spare tire too.

Kids Get in The Same Time You Do: When you are traveling with your children, have them get into your vehicle at the same time you do. This way, if something bad happens, they are not trapped in the vehicle or worse yet, set up to be taken should a carjacking occur, for example.

Report Suspicious Activity: If you notice suspicious activity or individuals loitering around parking areas, report it to security or the local authorities. Your vigilance can help prevent potential crimes. We all can play a part. And do not worry about hurting someone’s feelings or if what you thought you saw turns out to be nothing. Let authorities handle all that.


While no single measure can guarantee complete safety, parking under or near light is a practical and effective strategy to reduce risk. By increasing visibility and minimizing the time spent in vulnerable transition spaces, you can significantly enhance your personal security.

Remember, safety is a combination of several small actions that collectively make a big difference. Stay alert, be proactive in your safety measures, and always prioritize well-lit parking areas. These steps will help you navigate your daily activities with greater peace of mind, knowing you are taking practical measures to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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