Accidents seem to be inevitable in parking lots where vehicles travel in all directions and every motorist who parks then becomes a pedestrian. The relatively low speed limits and traffic markings in parking lots mean that accidents will likely occur at slow speeds. While such a fender bender might not result in personal injury to occupants of a vehicle, if a vehicle hits a pedestrian even gently, the impact can cause the pedestrian to fall down, causing a serious head injury, or exposure to further trauma.
Indeed, approximately 22% of pedestrian-vehicle accidents occur in parking lots. Of these, about one-fifth result in incapacitating injuries. Therefore, constant alertness is imperative wherever people are walking and vehicles are parked.
One way to keep safe and avoid accidents in a parking lot is to remember your dual role as a driver and a pedestrian. The following are some tips to keep in mind to increase your safety and that of others in a parking lot:
As a Pedestrian:
- Walk, don’t run. Be cautious and aware of your surroundings when walking in a parking lot, and especially when walking out between parked vehicles. Use available crosswalks.
- Don’t assume drivers see you when you see them. In many cases, a pedestrian sees and hears a vehicle before a driver can see the pedestrian due to blind spots.
- Don’t walk behind a vehicle that is backing out. If you see a vehicle’s back up lights on, wait. The driver’s view may be obstructed by blind spots or other vehicles parked on either side.
- Be aware that moving vehicles can come from every direction and circumstances can change quickly. Don’t assume vehicles will yield to you. Don’t text or talk on the phone while walking in a parking lot.
- Stay with children. A driver may not be able to see a small child in a parking lot.
As a Motorist:
- Never speed in a parking lot. Most parking lots have a speed limit of 10 mph. Observe all traffic markings.
- Always stay alert for pedestrians and other vehicles, both parked and moving. Don’t assume pedestrians see you. Don’t drive behind a car that is backing out or has its back up lights on.
- Whenever possible avoid being in reverse. More incidents happen in reverse. Pull all the way through the parking space to avoid being in reverse when leaving, or back into the space when you arrive and have a better opportunity to check your surroundings.
- Be cautious backing out of a space, especially when parked next to taller vehicles that block your view.
- Looking for a parking space, or backing out of one, while watching for pedestrians and other vehicles, is difficult enough. Turn off distractions, such as your radio, and don’t text or talk on the phone.