Driving through the grocery store parking lot at 10 mph or cruising through the local county park’s car lot at 5 mph might not raise an extra cautious eye for most drivers but the truth is – public parking lots are often homes to the most common car crashes with both bicyclists and pedestrians, since there’s no clear separation of where to travel between the two. The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association says 1 in 5 accidents take place in a parking lot and that number increases to 2 in 5 accidents during the weather warm-up seasons such as spring because of the large volume of traffic and more people outside. On average, 91,000 people are injured in parking lot related crashes each year.
WATCH OUT FOR PEDESTRIANS AND TWO WHEELED VEHICLES
Some vehicles are actually driving through shared pedestrian walkways and bike lanes to find parking spots. When that happens it is more than likely they won’t see a pedestrian or bicyclist who is in a blind spot or being blocked by other vehicles. Drivers should keep an eye out for people exercising, traveling with kids, or walking their dogs as they enter or exit a parking lot, especially on warm, sunny days. Outdoor activities, like bike riding and skateboarding, increase in popularity in the spring, so keep an eye out for bicyclists who have the same rights as other vehicles on most roads. In particular, watch out for bicycles at intersections and when turning into a new parking lot lane, backing up, or while parallel parking. Since most parking lots in Indiana don’t regulate stops at every aisle, drivers can forget that they can’t just turn in front of pedestrians or bicyclists. Drivers should apply the same rules of the road and yield for pedestrians and also share 3 feet with bicyclist. In doing so they are likely to avoid parking lot accidents and the injuries sustained from them.
SMALL CRASHES CAN RESULT IN BIG DAMAGES
Although most parking lot accidents tend to involve vehicle damage only, injuries and fatalities do happen, and they typically involve pedestrians. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 1,621 people are killed annually in crashes that take place in parking lots, driveways or on private roads. About 39 percent are pedestrians and bicyclists.
AVOID PARKING LOT ACCIDENTS YEAR-ROUND
Experts say drivers can take certain steps to avoid parking lot accidents year-round by keeping their parking lot driving simple and taking open spaces quickly versus continuing to drive around locating the ‘perfect one.’ Drivers should not be scared to use their horn if they see other drivers, bicyclists or pedestrians participating in unsafe behaviors like texting while walking, talking on their phones or generally not paying attention. Giving a honk towards someone crossing an unsafe path while carrying bags or a child in front of their line of sight could prevent an injury or save a life.
Stay alert, keep yourself and others safe by being proactive against the challenges of parking lot driving and make the most of the new spring season.
Stephen Wagner and Jason Reese can handle your parking lot personal injury or accident case with years of experience and proven results. Call the law firm of Wagner Reese today 888-710-9377 for your FREE consultation!