Most Hong Kong drivers should have experienced difficulty with parking in this cramped city. Sometimes we may end up parking on slopes when there’s no level parking space around. However, a fatal traffic accident in North Point last Monday came as an alarming reminder of the importance of parking safety. The accident took place when a school minibus careened down the street after the driver had exited the vehicle, colliding with pedestrians down a narrow street before crashing into a storefront. The minibus driver tried to stop the vehicle from sliding but was hit and dragged for 20 meters. He and other three victims remained in critical condition at the hospital. The tragedy has claimed the lives of four people and injured nearly a dozen in total.
At the time of writing, the police had found no problem with the braking system of the school van and thus are focusing their investigation on whether the driver has applied the handbrake properly. In light of the accident, this week Kwiksure will offer some practical safety tips for parking on slopes.
Parking on slopes
Whether you’re parking on an incline or decline, there are some general rules that you should stick to at all times to keep your vehicle and other vehicles safe.
You should park as close as possible to the edge.
Before you leave your vehicle, you should ensure that the engine has been switched off and the handbrake is firmly applied. You can do so by pulling it all the way and then giving it an extra tug to make sure it’s fully engaged.
Leave your manual vehicle in first or reverse gear, or parking mode if you're driving an automatic car. Leaving your car in neutral will increase the risk of it rolling forward or backward. Ascertain the handbrake is on firmly before using the selector setting 'P' (parking) to avoid risk with some vehicles of a jammed transmission.
Lights should always be left on in foggy or misty conditions so that your vehicle is visible to other motorists.
Moving your vehicle out of a parking space is more difficult on a slope and usually requires more room. Drivers should leave a bigger gap for both themselves and other drivers.
If you are headed uphill, you should stop as close as you can to the nearside curb and turn your steering wheel to the right. The reason for this is that even if the brake fails and the car rolls backward, it will be checked by the front-wheel coming against the curb. Apply the handbrake firmly and leave the vehicle in first gear or parking mode.
When headed downhill, you should turn the steering wheel to the left so that even if the vehicle slides down it will be blocked by the curb. Apply the handbrake firmly and leave the vehicle in reverse gear.
Parking uphill (or downhill) without a curb
Before you apply the handbrake and select a first gear or parking mode, you should turn the steering wheel to the left so that, even in the worst case scenario, the vehicle will not run back across the road.
Insurance compensation for this accident
Unlike third party death or bodily injury, which has a statutory compensation limit of $100 million per accident, the compensation limit for third party property damage is $1 million only, which may not be sufficient to cover the damages made in this incident. In this case, the insurer may provide compensations to the relevant parties on a first come first serve basis.
Your best motor insurance advisor
From January to November this year, the police have recorded 14,000 traffic accidents, with 99 fatal crashes that killed 118 people, which means that there are 24 more victims than the same period last year, including a double-decker bus flipping on its side in Tai Po in February and a coach to the airport smashing into a taxi in November.
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