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Parking lots are dangerous, especially during the holidays

When someone mentions “car accident” you probably think of a highway crash or intersection collision. In reality, side streets and parking lots can be dangerous too.

Even low-speed collisions can cause serious injuries. Parking lot accidents – including pedestrians hit by cars -- increase sharply during the Christmas season. There is more traffic and many of those drivers are distracted. Be extra careful when you are shopping and running errands this year.

1 in 5 accidents occur in parking lots

The National Safety Council reports that one out of five traffic accidents happen in parking areas. On average, there are more than 50,000 crashes in parking lots and parking garages each year, resulting in at least 60,000 injuries and 500 dies.

Drivers are often distracted as they enter or exit parking lots. In one survey, more than 66 percent admitting to talking on the while driving in parking lots, and more than half said they would use their smartphones for texting, checking social media or taking photos.

‘Tis the season … for parking lot injuries

Black Friday is the worst day for parking lot accidents, but the trend continues through the holidays. Traffic spikes with last minute shoppers the weekend before Christmas. Then people flock to the malls and stores the day after Christmas to return gifts or shop for deals.

These are some of the common scenarios leading to injury or fatality:

  • Speeding through parking lots or ignoring stop signs
  • Failing to yield to people entering or exiting stores
  • Backing out of parking spots without looking
  • Texting or using GPS devices in parking lots
  • Pulling out from a parking lot into oncoming traffic
  • Pedestrians preoccupied by cellphones walking directly into traffic

Tips to stay safe in parking zones during the holidays

It’s not always possible to avoid a crash with someone who is careless or distracted. But you can reduced the chances of an injury accident with some common-sense tactics;

-- Be patient. Slow down and obey traffic signs.
-- Make eye contact with pedestrians and other drivers. Don’t assume they see you.
-- Park farther from the entrance, where it’s not as congested.
-- Park in well-let areas. This decreases the crash risk as well as the risk of robbery or assault.
-- Don’t rely solely on your car’s back-up camera. Use your mirrors and shoulder checks.
-- Put your phone away (drivers AND pedestrians).

Everyone has had a near miss in a parking lot. Don’t be part of the problem. Don’t become one of the statistics. The last thing you want is to deal with injuries, insurance companies and legal matters during the holidays.

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Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

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