Did you know that nearly one in five traffic accidents happens in a parking lot or parking garage? Improvements in infrastructure and safety applications, such as seat belts and air bags, have reduced the frequency of certain types of traffic accidents. However, accidents involving personal injury and property damage in parking lots are on the rise.
Smartphones have been blamed for this alarming trend, as they have a marked effect on the level of concentration of both drivers and pedestrians. Many people also wrongly assume that when vehicles are moving slowly, the risk of damage or injury is negligible.
Follow these eight tips to stay safe and avoid parking lot accidents.
1. Choose your parking space carefully
Most people try to park as close as possible to the building, but this can be a mistake. Not only are there fewer spaces, but the area is more likely to be congested. Remember that most malls have more than one entrance. Opting for a side entrance can help you beat the crowds and make parking easier. And a space that’s farther from the entrance is likely to be quieter. Plus, parking a bit farther back can help increase your daily step count.
2. Be risk aware
If possible, park in a well-lit area and avoid potential hazards like pillars, walls or signs, which can make parking more treacherous. Don’t park next to oversized vehicles such as SUVs or vans, as they will give you less room to maneuver and could block your view when it’s time to leave. Avoid parking near any car with dents or scuffs as this suggests a lack of care and attention on the part of the owner. If you must park in a tight spot, tuck your side mirrors in before you leave. Remind passengers (especially children) to exercise caution when opening car doors to avoid bumping a neighbouring vehicle.
3. See and be seen
Never use your smartphone while driving or walking through a parking lot. Even during the day, use your lights to ensure that pedestrians and other drivers can see you. Have a good look around before you start to park, move very slowly and keep checking your mirrors until you are safely in the space.
If the parking lot has a surveillance system, park close to a camera. You could substantially reduce your risk of damage or theft and make it much easier to recover a loss should an accident occur.
4. Practice reverse parking
Reverse parking is by far the safest method. When you leave, you won’t need to back out into traffic with reduced visibility. Ideally, find an open space where you can drive in and leave nose-first.
If you have to reverse out of a parking space, consider asking a passenger or passerby to advise you on whether the route is clear, and move slowly until you have a view of the road behind you.
5. Mind children closely
Children are often too small to be clearly seen in a rearview mirror and may make sudden, unexpected movements. When you are driving in a parking lot, pay particular attention to any children in the vicinity. When you’re walking with children in a parking lot, keep a close eye on them at all times.
6. Use designated walkways and crossings
Don’t be tempted to weave between cars. Wherever possible, use a walkway or sidewalk, even if it means walking a little farther. If there is no walkway, look out for signs that a vehicle is about to move (such as car exhaust fumes, or brake or backup lights) and keep your children close.
7. Hide your valuables
Put shopping bags and packages in the trunk, especially if the packaging shows they contain consumer electronics or jewellery. If you run out of space in the trunk, cover your purchases with a blanket or travel rug. Visible valuables are an invitation to thieves, who are unlikely to be put off by your car alarm.
8. Wear your seatbelt
Even a low-speed collision can result in personal injury. Don’t start driving until all passengers have put on their seatbelts, even if you are only moving to another part of the parking lot. If you do have to undo your seat belt, be sure to put it back on as soon as possible.
Follow these tips, and your only worry on your next shopping trip will be your bank balance.