What is Parking Rage?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Parking rage might be called a symptom of overgrowth in urban areas or places where the number of cars exceeds the number of parking spaces. This condition manifests in different ways, all problems for city officials and for the residents of a city. Biggest complains of parking rage seem to come from the UK, and also cities like San Francisco.

Carpooling can reduce the number of vehicles and help eliminate parking rage.
Carpooling can reduce the number of vehicles and help eliminate parking rage.

Simply put, parking rage is the uncontrolled anger felt by drivers who are trying to park, or who have been ticketed for parking illegally. This can lead specifically to illegal acts, like assault, destruction of parking meters or angry behavior and gestures toward city employees like meter readers. It’s not unusual for people to scream at meter readers if they get a ticket, to honk their horn loudly at people trying to vacate a space, or to block a car from leaving a space because it is parked badly or illegally. In addition, some people accost other drivers who have parked poorly, leave insulting notes on their car windows, or even damaging cars by keying or spray painting them with obscenities. In worst-case scenarios, parking rage can culminate in violent physical fights between two drivers, or one attacking another with his or her car.

Parking garages that aren't big enough can be a common site for parking rage.
Parking garages that aren't big enough can be a common site for parking rage.

Since parking rage has been studied, a few things have become quite clear. People tend to be slower leaving a parking space when someone is waiting for the space. Even if the person hurries, they are slower than when no one is waiting. If an angry driver in a waiting car honks or shouts, time to leave a parking space further increases. This should make it evident to people waiting for spaces that they should wait quietly and without any hostile attitude or behavior toward the person exiting a parking space.

A parking ticket might spark parking rage in some people.
A parking ticket might spark parking rage in some people.

Parking rage is clearly more common in areas of congested traffic, where the number of spaces is scant. It tends to manifest when people have already commuted or struggled through a great deal of traffic; so it most commonly occurs during rush hour traffic. To avoid being the victim of another’s rage, you might want to make sure you have extra time to find parking.

Another alternative being tried in some cities is offering convenient ways to get to work without using cars. There are park and ride solutions where people park in areas with plenty of space and then use buses or trains to get to their workplace. Building larger parking garages can also help, though again if these are not large enough, they may become the site of frequent parking rage. Ridesharing, to reduce the number of cars on the road and increase ability of spaces may help too.

If you are in a situation where you happen to anger someone, it’s a good idea to keep a cellphone handy to contact the police. Also, you can lower your chances of being injured by not fighting back. If you confront someone honking or yelling at you, you’re more likely to be involved in a physical confrontation and could get injured. Further, do your best to park legally, and with care, so as not to enrage other drivers.

With car ownership ever increasing, it’s unlikely parking rage will end until people either form a greater reliance on public transportation or do smart things like carpooling. This is not always possible, and city planners need to work hard to find more solutions to the problem of parking. In the meantime, remember that being late does not excuse rudeness or violence toward others. Take a few deep breaths, if you feel unduly angered by trying to find a space or by the actions of another driver. Avoiding a possible physical attack and being polite to other drivers, by learning to be more calm and centered has its rewards.

A driver trying to park might become enraged by someone not leaving a parking spot quickly.
A driver trying to park might become enraged by someone not leaving a parking spot quickly.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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