In the Holiday Rush, Parking Lots Can Be Danger Zones
Throughout the holiday season, millions of people will be rushing out to buy gifts for their families and friends. Thousands of them will be doing so right here in Phoenix. While the season of giving can be an exciting time, these trips to retail spaces can also be dangerous.
Inside the mall, people can slip on uncleaned spills and suffer serious falls. They may be shoved, causing them to bump onto sharp objects or another person. And in the mall parking lot, there are vehicles thrown into the mix. As these vehicles try to move around pedestrians, and pedestrians try to move around vehicles, accidents are bound to take place.
The Dangers of Parking Lots
Parking lots are an afterthought to most people. They have arrived at their destination, or they’re just about to leave, and the attitude behind the wheel is more relaxed. This is one of the biggest causes of parking lot accidents. Drivers and pedestrians just aren’t paying attention the way they should be.
A quick look at the stats shows just how dangerous parking lots can be for pedestrians:
- Over 50,000 accidents occur in parking lots and parking garages in the United States every year, resulting in over 60,000 injuries. Over 500 of those accidents are fatal for the pedestrians involved. The number of auto insurance claims for traffic accidents spike at this time of year. The actual number of accidents is likely to be even higher, because minor accidents are often left unreported.
- The National Traffic Safety Administration states that 22% of children, aged 5 to 9, killed in traffic accidents were pedestrians. In most cases, the drivers didn’t see the children as they backed up their vehicles.
- 25% of all accidents occurring in a parking lot involved a reversing car.
- A study done by the Institute of Transportation Engineers showed that out of 480 pedestrian accidents studied, 73% of them happened at a retail location.
The misconception is because vehicles are traveling at slower speeds, parking lots are safer than public streets. However, the rules of the road aren’t always applied in parking lots, and there are obstacles in these spaces not always seen on the road. People are constantly turning, which in itself increases the chances of an accident. Large trucks are always coming in and out to make their deliveries, and drivers have reduced lines of sight due to the number of parked cars around them.
Of course, parking lots and parking garages are often dark. This can also increase the odds of an accident, and also provide opportunity for criminals to attack or rob pedestrians in the area.
How Pedestrians Can Stay Safe
Many pedestrians assume that if a car is backing up and the driver has his head turned towards them, they have been seen. This is not always the case. There is a lot going on in a parking lot; there are also several blind spots on vehicles, and a driver’s view can be blocked by any of these, even if the pedestrian doesn’t realize it.
The best advice when a vehicle is backing up is to stop and let it move out of the space. It’s best to pick up small children or put them in a shopping cart when walking through a parking lot. Children can be unpredictable and can run out into a vehicle’s path. When vehicles are backing up, the child may be too small for the driver to see, and so he or she may continue backing up.
At all times in a parking lot, it’s important to watch out for vehicles that are on the move. This is particularly important when walking out from between parked vehicles. The cars traveling through the rows aren’t always driving at a slow speed, so pedestrians need to give themselves as much time as possible to move back into a safe area.
The truth is, a pedestrian can take all of these precautions and still run into the worst-case scenario in a parking lot.
What Can Pedestrians Do If They’re Hit?
Being hit by a vehicle can be very serious or even fatal for a pedestrian. It can also be shocking, which is why all pedestrians should be familiar with the proper steps to take beforehand.
First and foremost, seek medical treatment. Even if injuries are not immediately apparent, they could be lying under the surface. A doctor will be able to check for internal bleeding and other internal injuries that can turn catastrophic if not checked right away.
Call the police. If there are any injuries, they will send medical help, typically bringing an ambulance with them. The police will take statements from both the driver and the pedestrian. Exchange insurance and contact information with the driver, as these may be able to help if you need to file a personal injury claim at a later time.
Lastly, anyone involved in a pedestrian accident should contact a Phoenix pedestrian accident attorney at Breyer Law Offices, P.C., right away. A lawyer can contact the driver’s insurance company for you. This can result in a fairer settlement, and prevent your claim from being denied completely. Call (602) 267-1280 for a free consultation today.
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer