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Roadways can be dangerous, but so can parking lots, with approximately 50,000 collision-related incidents yearly. The main reason seems to be that drivers will let their guard down when they enter these areas because driving is generally slower. They also don’t always follow general rules and regulations, which can easily cause a car accident. So, why are parking lots so dangerous, and what can you do to stay safe? 

The dangers of parking lots

Police inspecting a parking lot accident outside of a bank in North Rhine-Westphalia, Marienheide
Police inspecting a parking lot accident | Markus Klümper/picture alliance via Getty Images

Disregarding traffic laws in parking lots is one of the biggest reasons why accidents happen. For example, some people will blow past stop signs, drive too fast to get a parking spot, and cut across lanes without regard to anyone else driving in the lot. Distractions are another reason collisions occur. A few drivers admit to making phone calls while maneuvering a parking area, and others will fiddle with their infotainment systems.

These distractions can cause injuries and crashes, especially when backing out of a parking spot. If drivers don’t take the time to check to make sure it’s safe to reverse out of a space, they can back into pedestrians or other vehicles. According to Erie Insurance, there are five things you can do to avoid having a parking lot accident.

1. Slow down

The first thing you can do is to slow down when you reach a parking area. Always be aware of other drivers and pedestrians moving around in the lot. As long as you’re taking it easy with your speed, you’ll be able to stop quickly if a vehicle happens to back out in front of you or someone walks in front of your car, safely avoiding a car accident.

2. Don’t be afraid to use technology

A vehicle’s technology features can be intimidating when you’re not used to them, but they can be lifesavers in situations like a busy parking lot. Pedestrian detection is one example of that. It will alert you when it detects someone near your vehicle, so you can stop and do a thorough check around you before proceeding to back out of your parking space. 

Another example of a valuable piece of equipment is a backup camera. Standard on most new vehicles, this will let you see what’s behind you at all times while reversing out of a parking spot. If a car is backing out of a space behind you, you can see it right away before making a move to put your car in reverse. 

3. Keep a fair distance away from other cars

If you don’t want to end up with a lot of dings, dents, and scratches from other vehicles in the parking lot, you might want to consider keeping your distance from the popular spaces. Most people like to park near the front, so they’re closer to the store, which increases the risk of accidents. You can avoid that by parking a bit further in the back, where fewer cars will surround your vehicle.

4. Set your mirrors correctly

Side mirrors are a great way to help you see where pedestrians or other automobiles are if they happen to be close to your vehicle. To maximize your viewing area and avoid potential accidents, push the driver’s side mirror out to gain even more insight into the space around your car. You can also consider buying specialized blind-spot mirrors to add to the vehicle.

5. Watch out for any stray carts in the lot

While most stores have corals to keep empty shopping carts in one place, once people are done using them, that doesn’t always mean you won’t accidentally hit one or get hit by one when gusty winds come through your area. On those particularly windy days, be extra cautious so you don’t end up colliding with a runaway cart. 

Driving down a roadway takes constant vigilance to avoid colliding with other vehicles. When you turn off into a parking lot, though, don’t let your guard down. Stay alert and follow these simple tips to stay safe, even when driving at slower speeds so that you can prevent a parking lot accident. 


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