The Hidden Dangers of Parking Lot Accidents
Along with the holidays and the joy of being around the people you love comes the shopping, the rushing, the crowds, the spending, and the general overdoing it, whether it’s shopping or eating.
While you carry on your busy day, pay special attention to the dangers present in most parking lots and even parking garages.
These areas are riskier than you think and every year tens of thousands of car crashes occur injuring and even killing pedestrians. Around the holidays these numbers increase, according to the insurance industry, especially on Black Friday.
The actual numbers are probably even higher than reported because many people do not want to report fender benders on the chance their insurance rates may increase.
Nationally, there are more than 50,000 crashes in parking lots and garages every year that result in more than 500 deaths and 60,000 injuries, according to the National Safety Council.
Stay Safe in Parking Lots
Some of the blame is on the parking lot design itself. There are no stop signs and generally you proceed at your own risk. People may feel at ease with no traffic lights or signs and may not be thinking about pedestrians. Maybe they think of the parking lot as a time to place a call or check their phone.
Maybe there are kids in the back seat who are acting up. Maybe the cell phone spilled on the floor of the car, along with some hot coffee. Maybe the driver didn’t get enough sleep last night.
Holiday sales bring out all sort of folks who are under stress and/or who may not be experienced drivers.
Whatever the reason, there are some things pedestrians can do when walking in a parking lot to keep them and their loved ones safe.
When walking be sure to:
* Park as closely as you can to the door of the store. That may mean that you go at hours that are the least crowded such as early morning.
* Keep eye contact with drivers as much as possible and keep your head up in general, not looking down at your phone.
* Leave children or distractions behind as much as possible. The University of Alabama Birmingham found 67% of children ages 2 to 10 in a parking lot were unsupervised. That may include running ahead or darting out of a vehicle.
Nationally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that in one year, 5,000 children under the age of 14 were injured and 205 killed in parking lots, driveways, and private property.
* Watch for drivers who are about to back up. Practice defensive walking and look at tail lights and follow someone who just entered the drivers’ side.
* Criminals too understand that there are easy pedestrian targets in a parking lot during the holidays. Stay close to the store, walk with others, and choose places that are well-lit. When putting packages in the car, be sure to store them out of sight such as in the trunk.
When driving be sure to:
Are you likely to view parking lot time as downtime where you relax behind the wheel? Do not. The already hectic holidays combined with extra cars and pedestrians in parking lots are a formula for injury.
- The National Safety Council reports 66% of drivers say they will place a call in a parking lot, text, or check their GPS. Teens are more likely to be personally grooming. About 49% of people take photos or watch videos while driving through a parking lot.
- Keep your eyes on the rear of your car when you are about to back up. Turn your body around to check both sides and do not just rely on the rearview mirrors understanding that have reduced vision especially of smaller people.
- Drive slowly and not distracted. Driving in a parking lot is not time to check your phone, your makeup, or your directions. Keep vigilant and aware and drive defensively.
- If you have your eye on a parking space, do not let down your guard. The focus can distract you from defensive driving.
Please avoid cutting across lots, drive slowly and use your directional signals. Be mindful that there can be small children behind your car who you cannot see.
We hope you have safe and joyful holidays and don’t let the stress of the season get to you or cause you to lower your defenses.
If you have an unfortunate accident during the holidays, or anytime, understand that Mann & Potter is here to help. To schedule your free case consultation at our Birmingham office, message us online or call us today at 205-627-3186.