One of the most overlooked hazards for drivers is getting into a collision in a parking lot or garage. Parking areas pose some unique dangers, such as heavy traffic congestion, limited space, and limited visibility. Add to that the heavy pedestrian traffic, and you have conditions that are far more dangerous than most people realize.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there are over 50,000 accidents in parking lots and garages each year, resulting in more than 500 deaths and tens of thousands of severe injuries. Overall, parking area accidents account for somewhere between 20% to 25% of all traffic related accidents.
During the holidays, the risks of crashes in parking lots and garages are heightened. The NSC reports that auto insurance claims from parking area accidents begin to spike on Black Friday and remain higher than average through the end of the season. This is the time of year when lots and garages see a vast increase in traffic, and at the same time, people are busier than ever trying to get all of their shopping done.
What Causes so Many Parking Area Accidents?
Crashes in parking lots and garages are usually caused by some type of negligence. It could be the fault of a motorist, a bicyclist or pedestrian, the parking area owner or manager, or a combination of factors.
Here are some of the most common causes of parking lot and garage accidents:
- Aggressive/Reckless Driving: In a rush to find a good parking spot, motorists tend to drive more aggressively (and sometimes even recklessly) in parking areas. This puts pedestrians who are walking to and from their vehicles at greater risk. The stress of the holiday season only worsens this situation as people rush to check off everything on their “to do” list.
- Distractions: Distractions in parking lots and garages is a problem for both motorists and pedestrians. An NSC poll found that 66% of drivers said they would make phone calls while driving through parking areas, and 56% said they would send texts. Many pedestrians also spend a lot of time doing electronic activity on their phones, which can distract them from vehicles driving through lots and garages.
- Faulty Designs: Some parking areas are poorly designed. They have signs that point in multiple directions, dim lighting, sharp corners that are difficult to see around, parking spots that are too compact for an average sized vehicle to safely get into and out of, and driving lanes and parking spots that are not clearly marked.
- Poorly Maintained Lots and Garages: Closely related to the last point, there are parking areas that are showing their age and are not properly maintained. They have cracks in the pavement, potholes, uneven pavement, and similar hazards. This is especially dangerous for pedestrians, who run a greater risk of tripping and falling because of negligent maintenance.
Staying Safe in Parking Lots and Garages
We must all do our part to make this a safe holiday season both on the roadways and in parking areas. Here are some parking lot and garage safety tips for both motorists and pedestrians:
- Allow Extra Shopping Time: The best way to approach your holiday shopping is to give yourself plenty of time to get everything you need to get done. Block off more time than you need and try not to be stressed when you enter parking areas.
- Put your Phone on Do Not Disturb: Whether you are driving through a parking area or on the roadways, you should have your phone on “do not disturb”, so you are not distracted by incoming phone calls and texts. This will help reduce the temptation to make a call or send a text while behind the wheel.
- Slow Down: Drive slowly through parking lots and garages and always signal your intentions, so others know what you are doing.
- Stay in Your Lane: As much as possible, stay in your lane and avoid cutting across lanes or cutting across the lot.
- Be Mindful of Others: Stay alert and look out for other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians, especially when you are backing out of a parking spot.
- Keep an Eye Out for Small Children: Children can be unpredictable, and they are much more difficult to see than adults. Keep a special eye out for small children and parents with baby strollers so you can keep a safe distance from them.
Injured in a Parking Area Accident? Contact an Experienced Pensacola, FL Accident Injury Attorney
Of course we have to be mindful of Florida’s comparative negligence laws. Despite our best intentions, accidents are sometimes unavoidable because of the actions of others and circumstances beyond anyone’s control. If you or a loved one has been injured in a parking lot or parking garage accident, you need strong legal counsel by your side working hard to protect your rights and interest. If the accident occurred in Florida, contact Whibbs, Stone, & Barnett today at 1-888-219-4561 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment. We look forward to serving you!