The holiday shopping season is here. And while more people than ever will buy their gifts online this year due to stores opting out of big Black Friday events at their brick-and-mortar locations due to the threat of COVID-19, plenty of people will still pack Indiana’s malls and big-box retailers. That means long lines, sold-out merchandise, and chaotic parking lots.
For many people, busy parking lots are just an annoyance. But for others, they can be the cause of serious and even life-threatening injuries. The National Safety Council says that around 20% of all car accidents in America happen in parking lots. In addition, auto insurers report a spike in claims beginning around Black Friday and continuing well into the holidays.
Whether you’re planning on holiday shopping in-person or not, navigating parking lots is something most people do daily. Check out our tips below to stay safe and in these dangerously overlooked areas.
Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of crashes in Indiana. It’s also extremely common among drivers in parking lots. A big reason for that is due to people taking parking lots less seriously than city streets, highways, and interstates.
Few people drive faster than 10-15 mph in parking lots. That can lead to a false sense of security, which makes drivers believe it’s okay to look at their phones, send text messages, program their GPS, or use their infotainment systems. In fact, 66% of drivers admitted that they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots.
Distractions can be even more prevalent near the holidays, as drivers may be preoccupied with watching the movements of vehicles coming in and out of lanes, parking spaces, and nearby streets. They also may be chatting with passengers, reading shopping lists, and even searching for products online instead of paying attention to their driving.
Another danger associated with parking lots is drivers failing to treat them like actual roads with rules and laws. For example, drivers may blow through stop signs or fail to let pedestrians cross at crosswalks. Or they may enter parking lanes traveling in the wrong direction. Another source of accidents is drivers pulling through parking spaces instead of backing out when exiting.
Don’t speed in parking lots, even if no one is around. In addition, don’t cut through large sections of parking lots as a shortcut. Stick to specified driving lanes for navigating parking lots, including when entering and exiting them.
Of course, backing up has its own dangers. Children are particularly in danger of being injured in backup accidents, especially in parking lots. When backing up, turn your head and use your vehicle’s backup camera if it’s equipped with one. Backup slowly to let other drivers know you’re exiting your space and give pedestrians time to see you and move out of the way if they’re in your blind spot.
Never back up into the path of pedestrians or vehicles. Only begin backing up if you have plenty of time and space to do so. If your view is blocked due to large vehicles, consider having a passenger or nearby pedestrian stand behind your vehicle and wave you out safely as you exit your parking space.
Parking lot dangers only increase when you exit your vehicle or exit a store. Pedestrians face major risks in parking lots, especially when drivers are distracted, don’t look when backing up, or fail to follow precautions.
When walking in a parking lot, stay alert. Avoid distractions and music, walk in well-lit areas, and stick to crosswalks and sidewalks when they’re available. If you’re nervous about walking to your car alone, especially at night or after making an expensive purchase, consider asking store or mall security to escort you to your vehicle.
Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & NewlinN/a
The financial burden that often comes with a serious injury can be too much for many people to bear. Unexpected medical debt, damaged personal property, and the sudden loss of income can impact the budgets of most families. The good news is that a successful injury claim could help reduce that financial strain after a serious accident. Get in touch with a Terre Haute personal injury lawyer with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin to learn more.
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