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Parking Lot Accidents Surge During Holiday Season

Jason Reese

Look Both Ways When Going to Get That Last Gift

If you need to hit the road to grab that one last holiday gift or ingredient for your family meal, don’t get caught up in a parking lot wreck. Around the holidays, parking lots become a mixed bag of preoccupied, impatient, and unruly drivers. Distracted pedestrians who are more interested in checking their phone than watching where they are going only increase your risk of holiday parking lot accidents. The National Safety Council says there are more than 50,000 crashes that occur in parking lots and garage structures annually, resulting in 500 or more deaths and more than 60,000 injuries. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports an average of 1,621 people killed annually in crashes involving parking lots in the United States each year. Auto insurers back up those numbers and suggest the number of accident claims run above normal throughout the holiday season when large amounts of people are traveling, shopping, going to events, or dining out in concentrated areas.

Three Types of Common Parking Lot Accidents

  1. Exiting a Parking Lot Space, Into a Lane of Traffic. In a parking lot, drivers in the traffic lane always have the right of way. When pulling forward and into the parking lot traffic, always stop to look both ways before entering the lane and wait until it is safe to move forward.
  2. The Double Back Up. This happens when two drivers back up into each other and both are responsible for the decision making, movement, and checking to make sure the route was clear. In this type of accident both drivers will share fault for the accident.
  3. Backing Into A Moving Car. This type of parking lot accident is seen more than others and happens when the driver who is backing out did not take the proper precautions to back up safely.

Other parking lot accidents can occur when a driver is rushing to get a space and they collide with another driver doing the same thing. Parking lots rules are similar to those on a roadway. The driver making a turn across traffic must yield to oncoming traffic. Rear-end collisions are also common in parking lots and typically caused by the second in line driver not paying attention or when the car in front stops suddenly. Drivers are expected to provide enough distance between their car and the vehicle in front of them to avoid a rear-end collision. To avoid getting into a parking lot car accident in the first place, review these tips:

  • Always be looking in both directions, about 180 degrees before backing out of a parking space. Don’t just depend on a mirror or backup camera to assure you it is safe to start moving.
  • Choose a parking space at the end of a row, next to an island or in front of a light pole when possible to protect your car. Park in spots farther away from a store because it may be easier to avoid traffic.
  • Don’t be distracted. Stay off your phone or personal device.
  • Grab a parking space where you can pull forward instead of backing out.
  • Obey stop signs and no-parking signs.
  • Park in a space that fits your vehicle. For example, if you are driving a compact car, park in the compact car space. If you are in a bigger vehicle and require more room, find a space that allows you to comfortably park in between the lines.
  • Stay alert for cars and pedestrians cutting across parking lanes.
  • Stay in lanes and never cut across lots.
  • There is no need to rush the risk of getting in an accident by speeding through a parking lot. Drive slowly.
  • Use turn signals so other drivers and pedestrians can anticipate your actions.
  • When backing out, be mindful of vehicles and pedestrians, small children and baby strollers.

Although most parking lot accidents tend to involve vehicle damage only, injuries and fatalities do happen, and they typically involve pedestrians.

Watch Out For Pedestrians

On average, 91,000 people are injured in parking lot related crashes each year. Some drivers make the mistake of traveling through shared pedestrian walkways to find parking spots. When this happens, they can’t always see a pedestrian who is in a blind spot or being blocked by other vehicles. Drivers should keep an eye out for people traveling with children and strollers, or shoppers who may be unloading or returning their cart. In particular, watch out for pedestrians at parking lot crosswalks and when turning into a new parking lot lane, backing up, or while parallel parking. You can take these additional steps to avoid a parking lot crash with a pedestrian:

  • Use your horn if you see pedestrians participating in unsafe behaviors or not paying attention. Giving a honk towards someone crossing an unsafe path could prevent an injury or save a life.
  • In general, stay alert, follow signage, stay in your lane, and away from distractions like your phone or eating. Always drive with two hands on the wheel, and wear your seatbelt.

If you are in any accident this winter, the first thing you should do is to stay calm. Your actions are important to ensure everyone gets the proper medical treatment they need.

Becoming a Better Driver This Winter

During the winter driving season, we are all relying on one another to keep ourselves safe. Over the next few weeks, we will continue to write about seasonal driving topics on this blog and share tips for traveling during this time on our Facebook page. And remember, please drive safely and enjoy the holiday season!

If tragedy strikes and you or someone you love is injured in a winter related driving accident, please call the vehicular accident attorneys at Wagner Reese for a free consultation. We put decades of experience to work for you, and we won’t collect any fees unless your case is settled or won. Connect with us by submitting our online form, and our attorneys will review your information, and respond promptly. If you wish to speak directly with us, please call (888) 204-8440.


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