Here’s something you may have already noticed if you decided to brave the Black Friday crowds this year to kick-start your holiday shopping: parking lots are scary places.
How bad are they? According to a study conducted by Nationwide Insurance in 2012, 13 percent of all accidents occur in parking lots. And in some busy cities like Las Vegas, you may have trouble getting the police to the scene unless the crash is truly serious, which puts the onus on you to file an accident report with the department.
Since many parking lot accidents are fender benders, they might not seem like a big deal, but in reality, they can end up costing you thousands. And even low-speed crashes can cause painful, long-lasting injuries, especially if you’re involved in a car-on-pedestrian crash.
Why Are Parking Lots So Dangerous During the Holidays?
More people. Holiday sales bring shoppers to the malls in droves, leading to crowded driving lanes, fewer parking spots, and more frustration. Simply put, when you have more drivers and pedestrians in a small space, auto accidents are going to happen.
More rushing. Not only are there more cars and people, all of them are rushing to beat their neighbors to the best spaces and the biggest deals. Both drivers and pedestrians are trying to move faster to get where they’re going first, whether that means running through the parking lot to reach the store or pulling out to get to the next unbeatable deal across town. Not to mention the fact that many shoppers just don’t like being out in the colder weather and want to reach warmth fast.
Less light. On top of both of these things, we’re just entering the season where daylight hours shrink and people have to re-learn how to drive when it’s darker out. The darkness makes it more difficult to see other people and cars, and even one mistake like this can spell disaster at the wrong time.
What Can You Do to Avoid a Parking Lot Mishap?
Now that you understand why parking lots are more dangerous during the holidays, you have to take the next step and do your part to avoid getting into an accident. The following are tips that apply to both drivers and pedestrians.
Stay calm. If you’re stuck for minutes at a time in a parking lot because the people in front of you are waiting for spaces or the flow of pedestrians seems like it’s never-ending, take a deep breath. It’s easy to let yourself get frustrated, but this is when car accidents happen.
Wear bright clothing. Just like any other time when you’re walking, drivers are more likely to see you in a parking lot and avoid you if you’re wearing something that’s bright or reflective.
Park further away. Everyone’s instinct is always to go for the parking spots closest to the store, but often it’s safer to opt for further out places. Why? Because there are likely to be fewer cars and people around you, which means your chances of getting hit are lowered. Just be careful when walking to the store.
Go slowly. As mentioned above, everyone wants to get where they’re going as quickly as possible this time of year. That’s understandable, but rushing typically means you’re paying less attention, which increases your chances of getting hit. Back out slowly while watching for people and cars, and never run through a parking lot.
Use your signals. With everyone rushing, it’s even more important to use proper signals to indicate to other drivers and pedestrians where you’re going.
Watch for brake lights. Drivers are required by law to keep an eye out for pedestrians and give them the right of way, but that’s not going to be much comfort when you’re in the emergency room. Keep your eyes peeled for brake lights, because they are a good sign a car is about to back out.
Avoid distractions. If you need to set up your GPS to get you to your next location or use your smartphone to find nearby deals, please don’t do it when you’re en route. This goes for both drivers and pedestrians, because both need to pay attention if they want to keep from being hit.
Follow these precautions and your chances of getting into an accident will be significantly lowered. But “lowered” doesn’t mean there’s no chance, and you can’t control other drivers’ actions. If you are injured in an automobile accident because someone else made a mistake, make sure you receive medical attention immediately and get in contact with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”-an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state-and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”