Going to and from work, school, errands, and other daily activities inevitably means spending some time in parking lots. This time combined with the dangers associated with many motor vehicles in a small space has the potential to lead to an injury or even turn deadly. Parking lots are dangerous places, with a high rate of pedestrian injuries, and when a car strikes a pedestrian's unprotected body, even at a low speed, the injuries sustained can be severe. Here's what you need to know to stay safe.
What makes parking lots so dangerous?
At the most basic level, parking lots are dangerous for pedestrians because they're a shared space for both motorists and people on foot. It's often not clear who needs to go which way or who has the right of way.
Even a moderately busy parking lot has several parked vehicles at any given moment, which limits visibility for both drivers and pedestrians. Motorists backing out of parking spots with cars on either side are nearly blinded and can easily run over a pedestrian. In the winter months, with black ice and snow accumulating in parking lots, these dangers are only magnified, especially in the evening because the sun sets so early.
Perhaps the most dangerous single factor in parking lots, however, is distracted driving. A public opinion poll conducted by the National Safety Council found that two-thirds of drivers will make phone calls while driving through a parking lot. Programming GPS systems (63%), texting (56%), using social media (52%), sending or receiving emails (50%), and taking photos or watching videos (49%) are also dangerously common.
Driver safety in parking lots
Motorists have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely at all times, and that responsibility goes double in places that are full of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. When driving through a parking lot, you need to devote your full attention to driving. Put your cell phone down and program your GPS before you start driving, not while you're pulling out of a spot. While in motion, frequently check your blind spots to avoid hitting either a pedestrian or another motorist. Stay in the lanes, follow any arrows or other traffic directions, and use your turn signals as you would in any other roadway.
If possible, it's always best to park so that you can go forward out of the spot when you leave. If you must back out of a parking spot, proceed with extreme caution.
Pedestrian safety in parking lots
Given how dangerous parking lots can be, it's important to stay alert while walking through them. The way many shopping malls and retail centers are designed place the parking lots near the entrance to the stores. So even if you take public transportation or walk to a location you are forced to go across the parking lot. Given the speed with which motor vehicles can accelerate it is in your own interest of self-preservation to put the phone down until you're safely inside. If the parking lot has designated walkways, use them; if you have to go through the parts of the parking lot that are also used by cars, move with caution and stay as visible as possible. Don't step out into the road from between two cars as the motorist may not be paying attention. Try to utilize whatever protections are in place for pedestrians. Even if a collision is entirely the fault of the motorist, no pedestrian can "win" a collision with a moving motor vehicle.
Everybody shares a responsibility to be safe, but when it comes to parking lots, it's too often a pedestrian who gets badly hurt. If you were injured, the lawyers at the Keating Law Offices, P.C. would be honored to meet with you for a free consultation. Contact us today.