Parking Lot Safety: How to Avoid an Accident
Busy shoppers plus distracted drivers make for a dangerous situation
That mall parking lot is a zoo this time of year. It can be hard to find a space, yes, but you’re also dealing with more pedestrians and more drivers, which means an increased risk of accidents. Pedestrians, especially children, may dart out from between cars or cross the road carelessly. And drivers may be distracted as they scout out that prized spot.
Don’t let a fender-bender (or worse) put a damper on your holiday shopping. Here are nine tips from AAA and other organizations for keeping you (and your car) safe in parking lots this season.
1. Park far away. Don’t circle those front spots like a hawk. You’ll tie up traffic and burn up time and fuel. Instead, park farther away from the entrance and burn off a few calories walking to the door. Also, look for spaces near secondary entrances, which are often less crowded.
2. Reduce distractions. Noisy kids in the backseat begging to go see Santa? Read up on how to make sure kids behave in the car. Phone buzzing with a request to pick up something while you’re out? Ignore it. About a quarter of all car crashes include some kind of cellphone usage according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
3. Back into a space, or if possible, pull into a space and drive forward into an empty space in front of it. This will make getting out of the parking spot much easier. Try not to park between two tall vehicles, as they will reduce visibility as you back out.
4. Turn on your headlights, even in the daytime and especially in parking garages. The lights will make you more visible to pedestrians and other drivers.
5. Watch out for children. Small kids are hard to see when they’re standing between cars, and they’re more likely to run out into the road. Also, hold your child’s hand as you’re walking through the parking lot.
Related: What to Do If You Get Hit by a Car
6. Store purchases in your trunk. Putting store bags in the front or back seat makes them visible to would-be thieves.
7. Be a smart pedestrian. Use crosswalks and walkways when they’re available. And watch for clues that a car may be about to back out of a space, like exhaust fumes or reverse lights.
8. Buckle up. You can be injured in a car crash even at low speeds. The NSC says seat belts are your best protection against getting hurt in a collision.
9. Know where your keys are. Last year during the holidays, AAA’s Roadside Rescue Team helped more than 1,100 people who locked their keys in a car. Make sure you know where your keys are before you leave and lock your vehicle.
Related: 12 Tips for Safer Nighttime Driving