Tens of thousands of crashes occur in parking lots and garage structures annually, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. In fact, the National Safety Council reports that one in five accidents happen in a parking lot.
Many of these accidents are preventable, as the vast majority of them involve distracted driving…cell phones are a top contributing factor.
Even though people drive slower in parking lots, slower speeds may actually lead to a false sense of safety.
In a public opinion poll, 66% of U.S. drivers said they would make phone calls while driving through a parking lot—more than half of respondents also admitted they would program GPS systems, text, use social media, or send an email.
Don’t Let Your Guard Down
Slower speeds do not guarantee safety. “It’s just as dangerous to be distracted in a parking lot going 5 mph as it is going 50 mph,” says National Safety Council president Deborah Hersman.
The following is a list of safety suggestions to help drivers stay alert in parking lots:
- Stay in lanes and avoid cutting across lots
- Drive slowly and always use directional signals
- Anticipate the actions of other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists
- Obey stop signs and no-parking signs
- When backing out, be especially mindful of pedestrians
- Watch for small children and parents with baby strollers
- Don’t just rely on mirrors or backup cameras…look over your shoulder to make sure the path is clear
Other Parking Lot PitfallsSlip and fall accidents are among the most common types of premises liability lawsuits. These types of accidents can happen anywhere: retail stores, hotels, but especially in parking lots.
Poorly maintained parking lots may have cracked, uneven pavement or potholes as well as poor lighting that could help hide potential danger. Slips, trips and falls, in general, are a leading cause of injury for older adults.
Parking lots are also vulnerable to crime. Avoid leaving valuables in plain sight inside your vehicle. Put items in the trunk or hide them in the car. Choose parking lots and spaces near a security camera which can act as a deterrent.
Drivers should always be careful and exercise the same due diligence in parking lots that they would on busy streets.