With the holidays just around the corner, people are heading to the stores to buy presents for their friends and family. This jolly time of the year calls for large crowds, busy stores, and a potential increase in parking lot accidents. According to the National Safety Council, two-thirds of drivers may be distracted when pulling into a parking lot. These researchers believe that the slower speeds give people confidence of safety, which may lead them to increase their usage of cell phones while driving. In addition, one in five crashes occur in parking lots. These parking lot crashes can result in severe injuries or even death. The National Safety Council concluded that “on average at least 60,000 people are injured and 500 or more die in the 50,000 plus crashes in parking lots and garages every year” (CBS News). Whether the driver is distracted talking on the phone or the pedestrian is busy texting, parking lot accidents can be avoided. According to State Farm Insurance, take the following steps to avoid parking lot accidents:

  1. Slow down:

By driving slow, you buy time to react and avoid collisions. You should be especially cautious when backing up or turning corners. Leonardo Evans, a traffic safety issues expert, states, “If you drive just a little bit slower, you are in a better position to absorb the misbehavior of others.” Remember, the biggest hazard in parking lots is often the driver.  Slow down and take necessary precautions to avoid accidents.

  1. Beware of pedestrians:

People are crossing left and right in parking lots. According to Evans, pedestrians have a sense of security in parking lots. This may lead them to ignore your vehicle’s presence. With the busy holiday season, mothers may be distracted carrying bags. Drivers must be aware of young children, who may be crossing the street without paying attention to oncoming vehicles.

  1. Park away from the crowds:

Since the holidays can bring chaotic crowds, it may be wise to park away from the chaos to further avoid holiday-related parking issues. Parking far away not only reduces the crowds of distracted pedestrians, but it also diminishes the chance of property damage to your vehicle, such as the possibility of getting “door dinged.”

Parking lot accidents

It is crucial that every driver and pedestrian stay clear of distractions while in parking lots. An Erie Insurance survey found, “…drivers do all sorts of dangerous things behind the wheel including brushing teeth and changing clothes. The survey also found that one-third of drivers admitted to texting while driving, and three-quarters saying they’ve seen others do it” (Erie Insurance). Moreover, VTTI states that five seconds is the average time a driver’s eyes are off the road. If you are driving 55mph, it is enough time to cover a football field, blindfolded. Distractions.Gov, an official U.S. Government site for distracted driving, highlights the following distractions:

  1. Texting

  2. The usage of a cellphone/smartphone

  3. Grooming

  4.  Eating or drinking

  5.  Talking to fellow passengers in the vehicle

  6.  GPS maps

  7.  Adjusting radio

In October, a 24-year-old woman was struck by a truck in a Dallas parking lot. The driver was backing up in full speed, when he failed to see Maria. Instead of rendering aid to the victim, the driver decided to flee the scene, leaving injured Maria on the floor. Witnesses chased the driver and held him down until police arrived at the scene. The driver was held at the Dallas County Jail on a $100,000 bail bond. He is being charged with Failure to Stop and Render Aid, which caused death.  Unfortunately, Maria was later pronounced dead (CBS DFW).

Parking lot accidents

This holiday season, avoid parking lot accidents. By paying attention to the road, driving slowly, and being free of distractions, you are practicing safe driving. Remember if you are involved in a car accident, follow this procedure. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administrations states, “Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes” (NHTSA). Parents, it is important that you speak to your teenager about the dangers of distracted driving. If you reside in the state of California, consider enrolling your child in the Start Smart Program, free state-wide classes developed and presented by the California Highway Patrol. We wish you a fun and safe holiday shopping experience!

Have a serious injury and need legal advice? Contact Howard Blau.

[a] Distracted Driving Research. (n.d.). Retrieved December 06, 2016, from http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-Initiatives/Pages/distracted-driving-research-studies.aspx

[b]  (n.d.). Woman Hit & Killed In Strip Mall Parking Lot, Driver Arrested. Retrieved December 06, 2016, from http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2016/10/10/woman-hit-killed-in-strip-mall-parking-lot-driver-arrested/

 [c] Facts and Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved December 06, 2016, from http://www.distraction.gov/stats-research-laws/facts-and-statistics.html

 [d] Parking lot accidents: Distracted driving causes hundreds of deaths in crashes every year. (n.d.). Retrieved December 06, 2016, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/parking-lot-accidents-distracted-drivers-national-safety-council/

 [e] Prevent Parking Lot Accidents. (n.d.). Retrieved December 06, 2016, from https://learningcenter.statefarm.com/safety-2/auto-2/prevent-parking-lot-accidents-1/