According to the National Safety Council, tens of thousands of crashes occur in parking lots and garage structures annually. That risk goes up during the holiday season when shoppers are distracted by checking off their gift lists and rushing to get the best deals.
If you find yourself losing focus – or losing your mind – while rounding the lot searching for spot this holiday season, keep this advice in mind.
Safety Tips for Drivers
Focus on driving: Your main focus should be on parking lot safety, not finding a great parking spot.
Keep it moving: Follow traffic signs inside the parking lot and avoid sudden stops, which could get your vehicle rear-ended, said John Paul, senior manager of traffic safety for AAA Northeast. If you do stop, scan for pedestrians and cars before you accelerate, he said.
Park farther away: Areas close to the store are typically the most congested. Parking farther away will also decrease the odds that someone is waiting for your spot when you get to your vehicle. Just make sure the area is well-lit if you are shopping at night or early in the morning.
Back into spots: Backing out of a parking spot is difficult and can be dangerous, especially when you’re between two large vehicles. Each year, about 50 pedestrians are killed when drivers back up in parking lots and parking garages, according to the National Safety Council. Backing into a spot can make it easier and safer when it’s time to leave.
Avoid road rage: Incessant honking, yelling and spot stealing are all very aggravating, but try not to let your emotions get the better of you. Don’t escalate a frustrating situation because you never know what the other driver will do. Be tolerant and forgiving and remember that the best “revenge” against someone who is driving aggressively is not to respond or engage.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians
Make yourself visible: About 75 percent of pedestrian traffic fatalities occur when it’s dark outside, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Wear bright clothing and walk in well-lit areas if you’re shopping early or at night. Before crossing in front of a vehicle, try to make eye contact with the driver so you know he or she can see you.
Ignore your phone: Keep your cellphone – and anything else that could be considered a distraction – in your pocket.
Pick safe spots: Walk on sidewalks and use crosswalks whenever possible. If you need to walk in the road, walk facing traffic. Do not dart across the street wherever you feel like it.
Sometimes accidents happen. If one does, know you’re covered with auto insurance from AAA. Get a free quote at AAA.com/Insurance.