Nearly everyone has had a close call in an open parking lot or a garage structure; some people have even bumped another vehicle. It may seem like just a fender-bender, but parking lot accidents can often be serious.
It is normal to relax a bit after turning off a busy road into a comparatively quiet parking lot. A driver can underestimate the dangers inherent in parking. One reason for accidents is the distraction of looking for an open space while also watching for pedestrians and other vehicles cruising around to find an opening and those backing out to leave.
Parking lot distractions
Various unexpected events can happen while people search for a parking place. Abandoned shopping carts can suddenly roll out into the parking area. Kids on skateboards dart through parked and moving cars. A parent pushing a baby stroller may suddenly scoot out between two vehicles. Small children can go rogue and run out in front of a driver.
Accidents and fatalities
Over 100,000 parking lot collisions occur each year. Parking lot accidents cause hundreds of deaths annually, as well as thousands of injuries. Add holiday shopping season or big sales at favorite department stores, and the rate of parking lot accidents increases.
It is a myth that only a hard crash can cause serious medical damage. Even a mild amount of contact between vehicles can cause medical issues for drivers and passengers. People may want to see their doctor after a mild collision; some injuries—such as brain bleeds, spinal injuries or whiplash—can take time to develop and cause pain.
Safety tips for parking lot driving
People seem to drive aimlessly in parking lots, forgetting common sense. Following a few simple tips may help avoid a tragedy. People driving in parking lots should not:
- Drive crossways across parking lanes
- Use cell phones or take care of hair or makeup
- Fail to check mirrors and look over their shoulders, even with a backup camera
- Block back or side window with packages before backing up
- Forget to anticipate the erratic actions of other drivers
- Drive fast, fail to signal when turning or run stop signs
- Ignore pedestrians, who often do not pay attention to cars
People can avoid most problems if they treat a parking lot experience with the same caution and alertness they would use on a busy road during rush hour. Parking lots look deceptively safe for shoppers; however, they can be dangerous. An accident in a parking lot can be just as deadly as an accident on the freeway.