Prevent Parking Lot Accidents

Jan 4, 2011

By Nate Granzow, goodneighborEXTRA staff writer State Farm™ Employee

You've just turned off a traffic-congested street and into the relative calm of a parking lot. Time to relax, right? Not really. It's actually a time to be extra alert. About 20 percent of all vehicle accidents happen in parking lots, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Though these low-speed collisions are rarely serious, they can be costly, time consuming, and aggravating. Protect yourself and your vehicle by following these tips.

Buy Time To React

Parking lots are filled with obstacles and hazards, but often the biggest danger is other drivers. They may cut across empty rows, drive too fast, or ignore signs and pavement markings, endangering everyone in the lot. The best way to deal with these drivers is simple: Slow down. This buys you time to react and avoid a collision. Be especially cautious when turning corners and backing up.

"If you drive just a little bit slower, you are in a better position to absorb the misbehavior of others," says Leonard Evans, an expert and author on traffic safety issues. "You must absorb their folly so you don't pay for it."

Expect Pedestrians

Parking lots are full of people coming from and going to their cars. "Pedestrians have a great sense of security in parking lots...they don't look for traffic," Evans says. Though pedestrians may not be looking out for you, it's still your responsibility to look out for them. Keep a wary eye out for any pedestrians who may cross your vehicle's path, and be sure to obey all crosswalks within the parking lot. When entering particularly high foot-traffic areas, take your foot off the accelerator and cover the brake. Anticipate pedestrians even if you don't see any. If you're in a busy shopping area, remember that people lugging sacks of groceries or other purchases could also be shepherding hard-to-see children, too.

Distance Yourself

Door dings and scratches are aggravating and hard to avoid. No matter how courteous and conscientious you are when parking, you can fall victim to someone else's carelessness. One way to reduce the risk of door damage is to park away from other vehicles. This may be inconvenient, but it's considerably more polite than parking your vehicle across several spaces to keep others from parking near you. And the extra walking is good exercise.

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