Copyright © 2012 by Ralph Couey
There was a time in America when there were no traffic laws, mainly because encountering a fellow traveler in the great trackless wilderness was actually an event of some note. As time went on, the population, and its density, increased. Roads evolved from forest trails to dirt paths and from there to gravel, brick, and stone. Eventually the advent of the motor vehicle made necessary the paving of roads. To avoid collisions, carelessness, and needless bloodshed, laws were enacted governing our behaviors on the roads and highways. We sometimes chafe over the restrictions of speed limits and ill-timed traffic signals, but by and large we recognize that those laws are there to keep us safe, and so we heed them.
Unfortunately, there are areas where people seem to think traffic laws don’t exist. One of those areas is the parking lot.
American frontiersman used to say “There ain’t no law west of St. Louie, and there ain’t no God west of Ft. Smith.” It was a fairly accurate statement describing the relatively lawless nature of the west in those years. We have come far since those days, but there are times when the “frontier” of the mall parking lot is as dangerous a place as Allen Street was in Old Tombstone, Arizona.
Parking lots are areas of high density, both vehicles and people. And yet there are those of us who drive through them as if they were the only ones within miles. We’ve all seen the daredevil who cuts perpendicularly across the parking lanes, and those who roar through those lots at dangerous speeds. It doesn’t help that parking lots are generally considered private property and therefore not the purview of the local gendarmerie. Lots have rules, but the only ones around to enforce them are the Mall Cops, and I’ve never seen them give anyone a ticket. Not that such a ticket would be taken seriously. I’ve never seen a galleria traffic court. But the thing that most puzzles me are the actions of pedestrians.