By: Ursula Nizalowski
Compared to open highways or dirt roads, parking lots should seem safe. But in reality, they are not. Parking lots tend to get crowded with vehicles and pedestrians, which creates a high-risk environment for an accident. There are other factors that contribute to this problem as well, such as distracted driving and the lack of enforced traffic laws. Below is a list of parking lot accident types with tips on what to do if an accident does happen and how to prevent it.
Types of Accidents
Backing Into Other Vehicle – While rear view mirrors are meant to help drivers see what’s behind them, there is an unfortunate blind spot. This leads to a possible situation where a vehicle backs into another one by accident. And despite technological advancements such as rear view cameras, it doesn’t guarantee an accident won’t happen in the near future.
Hitting Pedestrians – In addition to plenty of vehicles, there are a lot of people that walk around parking lots. Drivers must be wary of not hitting pedestrians, which can sometimes be tricky when other vehicles block the driver’s view and lead to pedestrians seemingly appearing out of thin air. There’s even a study that found an estimated “218 fatalities and 10,000 injuries to children that occurred in non-traffic crashes such as…two-vehicle crashes in parking facilities” done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2007.
Pulling In Front Of Other Vehicle – Due to the denseness of parking lots, it can be difficult to spot other vehicles that are pulling out. This is especially true of small vehicles that are wedged between large ones. Not only will the driver not see them right away, but “the faster car that is already moving might not have time to react to the car pulling out” according to Reliable Paving, Inc.
What To Do
Contact Proper Authorities – If you are involved parking lot accident, the best course of action is to contact your insurance agent and the police if a lot of damage has been done. These people will not only help “determine the next steps” but also possibly “find the other car’s owner” if they are absent as State Farm advises.
Take Notes – Documenting the damage done to vehicles is a good idea as it provides the authorities with a more accurate picture so they can give proper justice to the accident. So doing things like taking notes and pictures of the damaged vehicles is helpful. Plus, it’s useful for insurance agents so they can make the right payments for the damages done to the vehicles-in-question.
Leave Contact Information – American Family Insurance says to always provide insurance information when dealing with an accident, including one’s “name and phone number”. This kind of information is important to have for handling the aftermath of an accident, which applies to both the victims and authorities. Otherwise, it might lead to future issues with accountability.
What Not To Do
Drive From Accident Scene – It may seem like common sense to not leave the scene of an accident, but some people are do. This is what’s legally referred to as a hit-and-run, which comes with severe consequences regardless of if the fleeing driver is guilty of causing the accident or not. Among these consequences include “victim restitution and driver’s license suspension” according to Bachus & Schanker.
Get Angry – Many insurance companies advice drivers who are involved in accidents to take a deep breath before following the necessary steps to dealing with the accident. That’s because getting angry over the situation won’t help anyone, even though it’s an understandable reaction to the situation. So it’s arguably better to try and remain calm as best as possible.
Share Information Prematurely – While sharing information with the other driver is important, it shouldn’t be shared remotely. Otherwise, the information could be used negatively. The one exception to this is when a driver has to leave for external reasons beyond their control, and so it’s advised to leave a note with basic information on the other driver’s vehicle in a secure but noticeable location.
Drive Cautiously – As said before, the laws that apply to traffic unfortunately aren’t enforced in parking lots. Thus, the driver is more responsible for their actions. For this reason, driving cautiously and slowly is probably the best way to navigate a parking lot and out of it.
Follow The Arrows – Just like paved roads, parking lots have painted arrows that are meant to help drivers direct their vehicles to where they need to go. It not only helps the flow of traffic in a parking lot but also reduces the risk of accidents. Still, preventing accidents really comes down to whether one choose to follow the arrows or not.
Pick Safe Spots – Choosing the right parking spot can be a tricky business, as it depends on the size of one’s vehicle and the sizes of the nearby vehicles. There are also safety rules to keep in mind such as not taking up two or more spots and making sure the spot is easy to pull out of, let alone back out. But so long as one keeps these factors in mind, then finding a safe spot should be easy.
For any parking lot-related accidents that do happen, feel free to contact attorney Rick Wagner.