You may assume that it’s safe to run to the mall to do a bit of Christmas shopping. You drive out, park your car and head into your favorite store to cross a few items off your holiday shopping list. Your mind is on the task at hand, but you’ll be safe, right? The answer to that might not be as straightforward as you think.
The National Safety Council reports that parking lot injuries and accidents spike on Black Friday and continue at a rapid pace throughout December. There are more than 50,000 reported parking lot accidents across the country each year, resulting in 500 deaths and more than 60,000 injuries.
Why do parking lot accidents happen?
Distracted driving is a problem on the roadways; there are more than 400,000 distracted driving-related injuries reported across the country each year. You may think that parking lots and garage structures would be safe from distracted drivers, but you’d be wrong. Sixty-six percent of drivers surveyed by the National Safety Council reported taking or making cellphone calls while driving through parking lots. An additional 63 percent admitted to programming GPS devices, 56 percent to texting, and 52 percent to using social media. Of course, all of these tasks can be done while safely parked in the lot, and there’s no need to be actively driving while distracted.
Drivers often don’t pay attention in parking lots. They are focused instead on what they’ll do when they get inside, are thinking about what to make for dinner, are daydreaming or are otherwise concentrating on something else. Drivers should instead focus on the task at hand, including following the rules of the road and being on the lookout for pedestrians and other vehicles.
Drivers need to drive in the lanes of the lot (instead of cutting across parking areas), use turn signals, obey traffic signs, slow down, and remain vigilant, particularly as children are often out shopping with their families. Focus and attention are especially important when backing out of parking spaces: 9 percent of parking lot fatalities happen while a vehicle is backing up.