Holiday shopping can be great fun. Stores go all out with glittering decorations; you can enjoy those guilty-pleasure holiday songs on loop, and who doesn’t love a classic mall Santa? One aspect of holiday shopping, however, is universally loathed: the nightmare of the parking lot.
Parking lots are more than just a minor safety hazard: The National Safety Council (NSC reports that more than 50,000 accidents occur in parking lots and garage structures per year, resulting in an estimated 500 deaths and 60,000 injuries. These risks increase significantly during the holiday season, with auto insurers reporting that the number of claims spike; beginning on Black Friday and remain above normal throughout the holiday shopping season.
Here’s what you need to know about parking lot accidents and how to avoid them while shopping during the holiday season.
The NSC reports that distracted driving is the number one cause of parking lot accidents, with as many as two-thirds of drivers pulling in to shopping centers while distracted. According to an NSC survey, most of these distractions occur due to cell phone usage. Survey results showed:
- 66% of drivers said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots
- 63% would program their GPS
- 56% would text
- 52% would use social media
- 49% would take photos or watch videos
Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents more generally, as safe driving requires full attention on the road. Parking lots are particularly dangerous because many drivers erroneously believe that because vehicles have to move slowly in a parking lot, they are at a lower risk. In fact, the high concentration of pedestrians and other vehicles in a parking lot introduce many more obstacles and potential accidents, and although higher speeds are associated with more serious accident injuries, you can still suffer serious injuries and even death in a parking lot accident.
Causes of Parking Lot Accidents
In addition to cell phone-facilitated distracted driving, some other common causes of parking lot accidents include:
- Drivers entering a parking lot are likely to focus on finding a parking space, and neglect pedestrians and other vehicles in their vicinity
- Drivers who must back out of parking spots are subjected to lower visibility and blind-spots, increasing the risk of collision
- Conventional traffic laws are unenforceable in parking lots, leading to confusion and possibility to reckless driving
- Parking lots are congested with moving pedestrians and vehicles, increasing the risk of collision
- Many parking lots lack proper lighting, decreasing visibility and increasing the risk of collision
How to Prevent Parking Lot Accidents
- While backing out of a parking spot, check all your mirrors, your blind spots, and physically turn your body to watch out of your back windshield
- Back out of your parking space very slowly, continuously checking your mirrors and your blind spots
- Comply with all posted traffic directives, for example stop signs, speed limits, or traffic markers indicating the direction of traffic
- Ensure that you and all your passengers are wearing safety belts before putting your key in the ignition
- Never use your cell phone or other electronic devices while your key is in the ignition.
- Park further from the entrance, where traffic is less congested
- As a pedestrian in a parking lot, practice ‘defensive walking’ and be alert and wary of distracted drivers
What to Do if you are Injured in a Parking Lot Accident
Parking lot accidents are very common and can be deadly. If you have been injured in an accident, contact a car accident lawyer, immediately. At The Dominguez Firm, we have assisted thousands of personal injury victims to file successful claims for compensation. In a parking accident lawsuit, time is of the essence. Call our firm today at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation about your case.
If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident while in a parking lot, be sure to read our article on recovering damages from a hit-and-run accident.