Is your car park senior-proof?

In today’s day and age customer service is one of the most important things to consider when running a business. The ‘we offer – you take’ attitude has long been replaced with the ‘we ask – you deliver’ kind of thought. And isn’t it remarkable how customer service has been improved over the last few years? New technology and inventions are turning the process of parking more and more convenient for customers – and so it should.

There are certain rules for parking garage design when it comes to handicapped parking spaces, but what about seniors? Should we also set some ground rules for them? The society is getting older and in the next decade there will be even more people over the age of 65. And these people will still be driving and parking. The seniors are coming!

What are the limitations of senior drivers? In CROW publication nr. 309 they say the following:

  1. Perceiving

When you get older, your hearing and vision will diminish. That’s a fact.

  1. Deciding

Older people have slower response times, especially when they have to make quick decisions.

  1. Acting

Lack of flexibility, stamina and strength leads to a distorted balance and reduced coordination. Seniors also experience more trouble when they have to make a sudden movement.

So what can you do to make your parking garage senior proof?

First of all, complexities have to be removed. Seniors can get easily confused. A clear parking guidance system can help with finding the car park and – when inside- finding an open space. My grandfather, for example, won’t park in a garage he hasn’t been before. He’s afraid he won’t know where to go or that he won’t be able to park the car without hitting something. Consistency in parking garages could also help with this problem (assuming more seniors feel this way). When you paint a number on each parking space, or use a more advanced Find Your Car system, people will find it easier to find their car back.

Perhaps you can reserve a couple of spaces for seniors, and make the spaces wider so they have more room to enter and exit the vehicle – and to park their car. But then again, don’t they also hand out blue badges to elderly people who have mobility issues? Make sure that it is easy to park in all spaces of your garage. They say that parking in a 60 degree angle is considered the easiest way.

What else can we do? Of course: Lights! Keep your parking lot well-lit. The older you are, the worse your eyesight will get. It’s also very important to have enough lighting around the pedestrian area or walking routes and make sure that there are no obstacles in the way. The ground should be smooth and easy to walk on. Old people tend to look down and react more slowly. Therefore, if there are any obstacles then make sure they are clearly visible. Mark them with contrasting colours so even the worse eyes can see them. If there are steps, make sure there are also handrails or/and an elevator. Doors that automatically open when someone approaches is another example: You never really think of it, but this could really make a difference for someone who doesn’t have that much strength.

What else can you do to meet their needs?

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