The holiday season is soon approaching. Decorations are coming out of the attic, students have booked their trips home, and Thanksgiving preparations are being made. This time of year, high commerce areas have increased traffic due to all of the holiday shopping. Whether you are getting gifts for Christmas, groceries for Thanksgiving, or just a really good Black Friday deal everyone is out shopping, and will be for some time.
That being said, this presents a greater risk for accident and injury, as hectic parking lots can mean lots of blind spots, unexpected pedestrians, and many impatient drivers. Here are some crucial tips to avoid an accident so you can avoid a dent in your holiday spirit as well as your car.
With the sun going down very early, there’s a good chance you’ll have to park your car in darkness. Sometimes parking in the closest spot isn’t the best spot. Parking in a well-lit spot with ample room is the safest place to park your car. You can much more easily navigate your surroundings because you can better see where you are going and you have more space to pull out of your spot. It is better to be in an open well-lit spot that is further away rather than be in a difficult and tight spot and risk getting your car hit.
It is very important that you pay lots of attention to your surroundings. Look out for cars backing up, and be careful at intersections. Even if there are stop signs, drivers sometimes do not take them as seriously in parking lots. Anticipate the actions of other drivers and be prepared to use your horn if another car does not seem to see you, especially if they are backing up and getting too close.
It is also important to drive slow as there could be shoppers walking all over the place. You do not want to be liable for a pedestrian accident. Pay special attention when backing out, or driving near the storefronts. Although they are helpful, don’t rely fully on your backup camera. Slow down at crosswalks, but be aware that many shoppers with cross the street without using a marked crosswalk.
It’s easy to get distracted by technology like your phone or GPS when you’re driving in a parking lot. You might be tempted to roll through the parking lot while scrolling on your phone, but this causes you to lose focus on the area around you. Be sure to set up all of your technology needs — like GPS directions or a text to let a friend know you’re on your way — before putting the car in gear. This reduces your distractions and allows you to pay more attention to what’s going on around you in the parking facility.
This is important to mention because studies show that 66% of drivers nationwide said they would make phone calls while driving in a parking lot. Other distractions include looking for something like your wallet, eating, or getting distracted by loud music.
Parking lots can be especially hazardous during snowy or icy weather. Oftentimes it takes a longer time for parking lots to get plowed than the main roads. Additionally, sometimes parking lots are not snow plowed as well as main roads.
Even if you are driving an all-wheel-drive vehicle, be aware of its limitations. Many people are under the impression that if their vehicle is equipped with this function they are invincible in snowy weather. All-wheel-drive will help your vehicle travel up that snowy hill or move through a snow covered road, but it will not help you stop. That’s why it’s important to always drive slowly on snowy or icy roads. Accelerate slowly, brake slowly over a longer distance, turn slowly. Although these are always good practices when driving on slippery roads, this is especially important in a parking lot, when many other cars are also maneuvering.
If you are walking in a parking lot, it’s important to be aware that other drivers may not be driving as defensively as you would like. Many drivers ignore normal traffic laws when driving in parking lots, such as ignoring stop signs and failing to use their blinkers. Additionally, at night it can be difficult for drivers to see you. Therefore, make yourself as visible as possible. Don’t weave in and out of cars. Use sidewalks and crosswalks where available. Pay attention to the brake lights of cars, knowing that they are trying to back out.
Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.
His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.