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As vaccinations continue to roll out and numbers decrease at an optimistic pace, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for New Yorkers. As of this week, 44% of Long Islanders as well as 44% of all New Yorkers have at least one dose of the vaccine. On top of that, the warming spring weather has made many eager to leave the house. With all of these things in consideration, it’s no wonder that strip malls and shopping malls are busier than ever.
From a safety standpoint, parking lots offer the greatest risk of pedestrian accidents. Parking lots at strip malls are especially hectic. This is because cars and people are not surrounding a specific entrance. Strip malls have multiple storefronts, with multiple entrances, resulting in vehicles and pedestrians in every direction. While drivers are expected to yield to pedestrians in parking lots, this doesn’t always happen. Drivers in parking lots can easily be distracted, and pedestrians don’t always make themselves visible. To avoid potential catastrophe, here is what drivers and pedestrians can do to create a safe environment in parking lots.
The more space you have between your car and others, the less likely you will be to be in an accident. 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. Being a little further away from the storefront also means you will encounter fewer pedestrians.
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 slowly 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 will cross the street without using a marked crosswalk.
Additionally, do not use your phone while you are driving in a parking lot; you are still driving and it is still a distraction. 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.
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.