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For the next few weeks, the stores are going to be busy. The holiday season is the biggest shopping time of the year as everyone is looking to buy gifts for their family. As a result, the parking lots of Long Island are going to be busier than usual for the next month.

Parking lots always have the potential of causing a car accident. More than 50000 car accidents occur in a parking lot every year. The holiday season is especially hazardous because at peak times throughout the week, the parking lots are going to be busy and chaotic. People tend to be rushing more this time of year, and many have higher levels of stress. To ensure the best safety, here are some tips to avoid an accident in a parking lot.

Parking Spot Location

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.

Drive Defensively

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.

Avoid Distractions

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.

In the Snow & Ice

Parking lots can be especially hazardous during snowy or icy weather. Often times 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.

As A Pedestrian

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.

About the Author

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.

The holidays have become quite the hustle on Long Island. Shopping outlet, plaza and mall parking lots become extremely dangerous for pedestrians this time of year. Around 500 deaths occur each year in parking lots and parking garages, as well as several other injuries. Drivers are rushing from store to store trying to get all their holiday shopping done. They’re making quick maneuvers to find parking spots while pedestrians are walking in each direction. A recent poll conducted by the National Safety Council found that 66% of drivers admit that they are distracted while driving through parking lots. And it’s safe to assume that drivers are even more distracted during the holiday rush. Drivers aren’t the only ones distracted, though – pedestrians are many times distracted while walking through parking lots, usually by their phones. All the rush and distraction become a recipe for disaster.

From the respondents of the poll, 63% set their GPS, 50% send or receive emails, 52% use social media, 49% take photos or watch videos, 43% use their smartphones, 43% search the internet, and 42% video chat all while driving through parking lots. The statistics are shocking. There are, on average, more than 50,000 crashes each year in parking lots, resulting in 500 or more deaths and over 60,000 injuries.

We urge everyone to be more vigilant in parking lots. Don’t let yourself become distracted, whether you’re walking through a parking lot or driving. The repercussions of driving or walking through a busy parking lot while distracted can be devastating. Don’t let the rush get to you either. Always keep attentive and take it slow.

And of course, we wish you the happiest of holidays this year!