Keep your cool as 'parking wars' erupt‚ say traffic officials

123RF: Stock Image
123RF: Stock Image

The temperature in the car is soaring‚ you are mentally calculating your budget and all you really want to do is to finish your Christmas shopping.

And then you see it. An empty parking bay that you have indicated will be yours. But‚ out of nowhere‚ another car has beaten you to it.

Shopping mall parking areas have turned into battlegrounds this festive season as hundreds of frustrated shoppers compete for empty bays.

Described in the US and Britain as "parking wars"‚ arguments and physical confrontations at shopping centres frequently have to be stopped by parking attendants.

Road Traffic Management Corporation spokesman Simon Zwane said road rage in car parks "definitely exists".

Unisa’s Institute for Social and Health Sciences categorises road rage on a scale of one to four.

The first category is non-threatening expressions of annoyance‚ such as complaining and yelling to oneself‚ or fellow motorists‚ in response to another driver’s behaviour. The fourth and most severe category is extreme road rage‚ which is direct confrontational behaviour‚ such as arguing with or assaulting another motorist.

"During the festive season when the roads are busy‚ tempers tend to flare. Road rage happens everywhere‚ including mall parking lots. In general‚ people are under a lot of pressure during the festive season and if things don’t go their way‚ they react in an aggressive manner."

In a car park angry motorists have nowhere to drive off to and are confined in that area. This makes it very easy for the perpetrator to open his door‚ get out of the car and brandish his fists.

"Fighting over parking is common yet shouldn’t be happening. We urge motorists to keep cool‚ give way and‚ if there is a conflict‚ to find another parking space. A parking space is not worth risking your life over‚ " Zwane said.

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