Come the holidays, we are often presented with images of crowds stampeding to get to a sale item—but the real danger for most shoppers is in the parking lot.
A huge number of parking lot accidents happen every year in Texas, and these numbers increase during the holidays. Distractions are a major issue in parking lots, where lower speeds and fewer restrictions create a sense of security for some drivers, causing them to show less caution than they might on the road.
Fortunately, there are a few things that drivers and pedestrians alike can do to stay safer in parking lots this holiday season. Drivers can slow down, obey all traffic signs, and be extra careful when backing up out of a space. Pedestrians should watch out for trip hazards, be cautious around all vehicles (especially those in reverse), and make eye contact with drivers as much as possible. Parking lots can also be a perfect place for criminals to strike, so people should be careful to avoid areas with poor lighting and watch for suspicious behavior.
Statistics on Parking Lot Safety
While you might think of parking lots as relatively safe places to drive or walk, they are in fact dangerous. For example, more than 50,000 crashes occur in parking lots and garages every year, resulting in more than 500 deaths and over 60,000 injuries. These numbers on average jump starting on Black Friday and remain higher than normal throughout the holiday shopping season.
Distracted driving is a particular issue among drivers in parking lots. A national survey of drivers by the National Safety Council showed that 66% of drivers nationwide said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots. The same survey revealed that 63% of drivers would program GPS systems, 56% would send or read text messages, and 49% of drivers would take photos or watch videos while driving through a parking lot! In the survey, teens were slightly less likely to be on the phone while driving through a parking lot, but more likely to engage in personal grooming.
Safety Tips for Drivers
The clear and simple takeaway for drivers in parking lots is to avoid distractions. Someone looking at a text or taking a photo is not giving his full attention to the road and his surroundings. Drivers in parking lots are often already focused on a parking space, instead of other cars and pedestrians, so eliminating any further distractions is a great way to improve safety.
Drivers in parking lots should be alert while backing up. While in reverse, drivers often have reduced vision due to other vehicles and cannot always tell when someone is behind them, especially small children. Slowing down and being more cautious while in a parking lot can prevent collisions and save lives.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians
Pedestrians should also be alert while walking through parking lots, as they are in greater danger than drivers. It is important for pedestrians to watch all moving vehicles around them and make eye contact with drivers before passing in front of or behind a vehicle whenever possible. Anyone walking through a parking lot should also watch out for trip hazards like curbs, potholes, and garbage.
Any pedestrian who is struck by a vehicle in a parking lot, or otherwise injured, may be able to seek compensation for injuries he or she suffers. For example, if a driver is distracted or fails to look around while reversing, that can make him or her negligent. We expect a reasonable driver to always be mindful of pedestrians, especially in a parking lot. Such negligence can make the driver financially liable for injuries caused to other people.
Filing and winning a lawsuit against a driver is not always easy, however, which is why it is so important to have an experienced personal injury attorney to handle such a case. It can take hundreds of hours of research, interviewing witnesses and reconstructing what happened, to prove that a driver was negligent and liable for your injuries.
Stay Alert for Criminal Behavior
Even when pedestrians and drivers are careful, there are other dangers to keep in mind when it comes to parking lots. Criminals often target parking lots as locations to commit theft and assault, due to the poor visibility and ease of access or departure. When parking or walking through a parking lot, stay in areas that are well-lit and do not park in a location where lights are burned out. It is often best to park close to a store, and be sure any packages or shopping bags are not visible from outside the vehicle.
If you are injured in a parking lot this holiday season, know that there is help available. Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP has over 25 years of experience handling car accident claims. To speak to a Dallas pedestrian accident lawyer in a free consultation, please call (214) 231-0555 today.