Parking Lot Safety Tips

Parking lots are dangerous settings, especially for pedestrians. Drivers speeding, going the wrong way, failing to yield the right-of-way, and driving distracted can all cause serious pedestrian collisions. According to the National Safety Council, more than 50,000 accidents, 60,000 injuries, and 500 deaths occur in parking lots and garages every year. The best way to keep yourself safe and your vehicle from damage is always to pay attention when driving and walking through parking lots. Use these safety tips for your best chance at pulling away unscathed.

Put Your Phone Away

Cell phones are the ultimate source of distraction. They absorb a user’s manual, visual, and cognitive attention – often making it impossible to focus on anything else. Taking phone calls, texting, or using social media while walking or driving in a parking lot is a recipe for disaster. Statistics stress the danger of distractions on roads and in parking lots: distracted driving took at least 3,450 lives in 2016.

Distracted walking is a growing issue thanks largely to cell phones and other electronic devices. Wearing headphones while walking through a parking lot, for example, could mean missing the sound of a car pulling out, honking, or the screech of its brakes. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons states that four in 10 people have personally witnessed a distracted walking accident, and 26% report being involved in these incidents themselves. Put your phone away while you walk through parking lots, and never use your phone when driving.

Look Both Ways

Never assume that a driver will see you and yield the right-of-way. Even if you know you’re in the right and should legally be the one to cross the road first, wait before you step out. Make eye contact with the oncoming driver so you know he or she sees you. Then, wait until the vehicle comes to a complete stop before crossing. Cross at marked crosswalks and areas in parking lots dedicated to letting customers pass, if applicable. Always look both ways before you cross the street, just in case something is distracting a driver or he/she decides to break the rules and ignore your right-of-way privilege.

Follow the Signs and Symbols

Many parking lot accidents happen because one or more parties failed to see and/or obey roadway signs or symbols drawn on the asphalt. Parking lot and business owners must take care to post signage that explains the flow of traffic and pedestrians. Look for these signs and cues to tell you how to enter and exit a parking lot, where to walk, when to stop, and which direction to drive. Ignoring parking lot signs can make your actions unpredictable to others and increase the odds of a collision.

Anticipate the Actions of Others

Part of being watchful in parking lots is anticipating what others around you will do. As a driver, proceed slowly and watch for vehicles pulling out of parking spaces or pedestrians walking. Anticipate that a vehicle with its brake lights on will back out, for example, or that a pedestrian on his or her phone will not see you and stop before crossing the road. Anticipating the next move can help you react appropriately to avoid an accident. Keep in mind that many people in parking lots may be in a hurry to get from one place to another and may not follow parking lot rules.

Pay Extra Attention Around the Holidays

Parking lot accidents spike around the holidays. Frantic last-minute shoppers, overly-packed shopping mall parking lots, and an influx of pedestrians make these locations extra dangerous during national holidays and major sales events, such as Black Friday. Be even more alert than usual when driving or walking around parking lots on holidays to avoid fender-benders or more serious collisions with people or vehicles.