How can I Avoid a Parking Lot Car Accident During the Holidays?

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The holiday season is a time for gift-giving, quality time with family and friends, and observing time-honored family traditions. However, the holidays can also be a stressful time because of heavier traffic, last-minute shopping, and crowded shopping malls. With frazzled shoppers coming and going, parking lots can become a prime spot for car accidents. From backing out of a parking spot too quickly to impatient motorists who cut off other motorists to snag an open parking spot, busy parking lots can quickly become a danger zone when it comes to car accidents. Motorists are urged to make safety a priority this holiday season by using extra caution when parking, pulling out of a parking spot, and driving in busy parking lots or parking garages. Drivers involved in a parking lot accident are encouraged to contact an experienced car accident lawyer for assistance.

Which Safety Tips Minimize the Risk of a Parking Lot Accident?

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that thousands of car accidents occur each year in parking lots and parking garages. In fact, shopping centers, grocery stores, and post offices always have significantly more traffic during the busy holiday season, which increases the risk of accidents. Motorists can avoid getting into an accident by keeping the following safety tips in mind:

  • Avoid distractions. During the busy holiday shopping season, it is important for drivers to stay alert and pay close attention to their surroundings. Motorists should put the cell phone down and avoid sending or reading text messages or taking on the phone when driving through a parking lot or parking garage. If a motorist’s attention is distracted for even a couple of seconds, they can hit another vehicle or a pedestrian. Small children who are not paying attention may walk in front of a car that is backing out of a spot or driving too fast through the lot. If the driver of the vehicle is not paying close attention to their surroundings, this can have devastating consequences.
  • Always park in well-lit spaces. In addition to being a safer place to park, particularly if the motorist is a woman who is shopping alone at night, parking in a well-lit spot will ensure that other motorists and pedestrians are better able to see the car as it pulls in and out of the spot.
  • Avoid trying to squeeze into parking spots that are too small. This increases the chance that both vehicles can get scratched. In addition, it will be difficult for motorists from either vehicle to get in or out of the cars.
  • Do not park between two larger or taller vehicles. This makes it difficult to see other vehicles or pedestrians coming when backing out of the parking space.
  • Do not rely solely on vehicle technology. Today’s newer cars are equipped with rear backup cameras that allow drivers to see what is behind them. However, when backing out of a parking spot, motorists are urged to physically look back to see if there are any vehicles or pedestrians approaching that the camera does not pick up.
  • Buckle seat belts. Just because motorists are not driving at a high speed through a parking lot does not mean they should not wear a seat belt. Accidents can and do happen in parking lots and having a seat belt on will reduce the risk of an injury, including whiplash and injuries to the neck, shoulder, back, chest, and head.
  • Use turn signals. Even when driving in a parking lot or garage, use of turn signals alerts other drivers and pedestrians that the motorist is planning to turn.
  • Practice good parking lot etiquette. Too many drivers are stressed, frazzled, and impatient this time of year, which increases the chance of confrontations over issues such as parking spots or getting cut off by another driver. Motorists should be courteous to other drivers and pedestrians and try not to overreact when other people steal a parking spot or become confrontational. This will only make the situation worse and potentially dangerous.
  • Pay attention to the location of the parking spot. When parking in a large lot or multi-level parking garage, it can be easy to forget where the car is parked. One suggestion is to take a picture of the spot, the level of the garage, and any other physical landmarks that will help locate the vehicle. There are apps available that can help motorists track down their vehicle as well.

Common Causes of Parking Lot Accidents

Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of parking lot accidents during the holidays, owing to the increased traffic in and around parking lots and parking garages. In fact, some studies estimate that approximately two-thirds of all parking lot drivers are distracted while they are driving in a busy parking lot or parking garage, particularly during the busy holiday season. The NSC urges all drivers and pedestrians to use extra caution when driving or walking through busy parking lots. The following are some common causes of car accidents that take place in parking lots:

  • Distracted drivers who are more focused on finding a parking spot than paying attention to other cars and pedestrians in the vicinity.
  • Drivers are more likely to be confused or drive recklessly in parking lots because the traffic laws are different in parking lots.
  • When backing out of a parking spot, there are many blind spots. Drivers who fail to back out slowly or check all blind spots before backing up are more likely to cause an accident with another vehicle or a pedestrian.
  • Parking lots are usually busy with cars and pedestrians coming and going.

Why are Drivers More Distracted During the Holidays?

Distracted driving remains a serious problem throughout the year, but the number of distracted driving-related accidents increase significantly during the holiday season. The spike in distracted driving is due to the following:

  • Cell phone use. As tempting as it may be, motorists should resist the urge to make a phone call or send a quick text when they are driving through a busy parking lot. Drivers should wait to make the call or send a message until the car is parked.
  • Drunk/impaired driving. Motorists are more likely to be distracted by a phone call, a text, or another person in the vehicle if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, with all the family parties and celebrations, there is also a spike in drunk driving accidents during the holidays.
  • Inclement weather. Many people love a white Christmas, but snow, ice, and freezing rain can make roads treacherous. Parking lots can become very slippery and dangerous as well. Inexperienced or stressed drivers are more likely to become distracted.
  • Heavier traffic. Increased traffic can cause motorists to become distracted, particularly during the holidays when drivers are also more likely to be stressed or fatigued.
  • Parking lots and pedestrians. Parking lots can be full of distractions, and if the motorist is not paying attention, they can rear-end another vehicle or hit a pedestrian who is walking to his or her car with a cartful of gifts.
  • Holiday stress. Although the holidays are called the most wonderful time of the year, they can also be the most stressful. When highly stressed, motorists’ ability to concentrate and make snap decisions is compromised. To avoid highly stressful shopping, drivers should avoid going at peak times and delegate some of the shopping to another family member.

What Should Drivers Do When Involved in a Parking Lot Accident?

Although parking lot accidents tend to be fairly minor, motorists are urged to treat the accident as any other car accident by taking the following steps:

  • Move the car to a safe location.
  • Call the 911 so that dispatch can send a police officer to the scene, as well as an ambulance if there are injuries involved.
  • Exchange information with the other driver.
  • Take pictures of the vehicles, the injuries, and any other evidence that may help prove fault.
  • Talk to witnesses and ask for their contact information if they would be willing to provide a statement.
  • Write down the date, times, location, and address of the parking lot, as well as the weather conditions and any other information that may be helpful.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if the accident caused injuries, even if the injuries are minor. Oftentimes, injuries may not seem obvious immediately following an accident because of the spike in adrenaline. Getting medical attention will ensure that the injuries are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Parking Lot Accidents

If you or a loved one was injured in a parking lot car accident, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will determine who is responsible for the accident and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.