I hate parking garages. One, as a large truck owner they are tricky to maneuver in and out of quickly (that goes for most vehicles, but larger ones especially). Two, they provide an unbelievable false sense of security.
I try to avoid them as much as possible and I have instructed others to do the same with the following 3 main examples/reasons:
- Limited Entrance and Exit. Most garages have a gate or arm that must rise in order to enter or exit. This really does nothing to stop someone from walking into the garage that has no business being there. It is more for controlling traffic and/or payment. If you are in a hurry to escape a threat, you have basically boxed yourself in, short of exiting your vehicle and jumping from the garage (most likely your best option).
The bottom levels tend to have high fences or gating to stop people from walking through the garage’s open areas. Again, traffic control. If you are on the bottom floor trying to escape, your best options are to head for the 1 or 2 vehicle exits, or work your way up to another level without covers on the openings.
Most doors leading to and from the garage are one way doors. Like maintenance doors or employee only doors. They are great for getting from a building into the garage, but not from the garage into an attached building.
- Limited movement. As mentioned before, movement in and out of a vehicle can be tricky. Tight angles, heavy concrete barriers, traffic, and even vehicle ability all come in to play when trying to quickly evade in a parking garage. It’s not like the movies where wide rows and large ceilings allow for vehicle aerobatics at fast speeds. In a parking garage, speed and aerobatics will just get you stuck even quicker.
Even on foot, movement is limited. As mentioned above, viable exits are limited but so is space to evade. Simply running around a pillar or vehicle does you little to no good when being chased. You are still CONTAINED within the garage. Even if you find a stairwell, again, you are contained and limited.
Precautions countermeasures also present equal gaps in security. Let’s say you park near an exit. You are still blocked to the front or rear, maybe even the sides. There is rarely a case in a parking garage you aren’t blocked on 3 sides. All it takes is for an aggressor or attacker is to block your single open side…now what?
(look at this above pic. Door is a one way out into the garage. The fence barrier on the second floor slows movement. This small nook is open but goes nowhere. You are ultimately trapped.)
-Visibility. Visibility from the mirrors of your car but also when walking. We can all agree mirrors on a vehicle don’t give you perfect 360 degree awareness outside…well now you’re in a large concrete maze. Mirrors really don’t do much anymore. Still helpful and can allow you to see a threat coming, but that still means you are in your vehicle. Depending on how fast the threat is moving to you, there isn’t much time or space to move or react.
Most garages do have lighting, but again, it’s designed around moving traffic and assisting vehicle movement. Not security. Next time you are in or near a parking garage notice how many dark corners there are. That’s because the garages are designed to help assist drivers…not walkers. Vehicles can’t get into those dark tight corners. So they aren’t lit. Garages are also limited in space to place optimal lighting. The other part of lighting is in the day time. Some garages will allow the open spaces to let the natural sunlight bleed in. This does light the overall area up, however it is still quite dark. Do you have to take your sunglasses off when you enter a garage? Because you can’t see well. Even mid day.
I am sure there are exceptions out there with very well lit garages. Good. That’s one of many things you won’t have to worry as much about.
(look at the above pic. Taken in broad daylight. Notice how dark the environment still is.)
There is a bunch more that we can discuss on Parking Garages. In fact, we are working on a defensive mindset seminar with a women’s group specifically on Parking Garages later in the year. Actually working in and around garages to show how challenging of an environment it can be defensively.
I hope these 3 topics are enough to get you thinking about your plan should you encounter a parking garage.