The holiday season is a flurry of activity that can test even the most joyful spirit. We all find ourselves rushing here and there to get a tree, attend a party, get pictures with Santa, visit with loved ones, or shop for the best deal while trying to keep up with the demands of daily life. This means more time in the car than usual, more traffic to contend with, more patience in jammed parking lots. As the number of vehicles and pedestrians increases, so, too, does the likelihood of trouble. From injury to property damage to theft, trouble can come in many forms, all of which are important to be aware of when you’re focused on holiday shopping this year. One major danger that lurks in every parking lot is the prevalence of cars going in reverse. Even though backup accidents don’t often occur at high speeds, they still can result in devastating injuries. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), backover injuries tend to happen more frequently in nonresidential parking lots than other areas, and occur most often to children under age 5 and adults over age 70. Although all new vehicles weighing under 10,000 pounds must have a back-up camera by 2018, this mandate hardly solves the problem. Studies show that drivers tend to be overconfident while using rearview cameras and many use them as a crutch, completely neglecting their side mirrors. It’s always best to look behind you and to the sides so you’re as aware as possible of approaching traffic and holiday shoppers. Just as drivers are in a hurry to park so they can start their shopping, they also tend to be in a hurry to get back on the road and get home. Perhaps they can’t see out the back window because of a pile of shopping bags and packages, or maybe they have a big blind spot, or it’s possible they simply weren’t paying attention. To improve safety and your chances of avoiding a wreck:
- Watch for cars cutting diagonally across the lot. Use your turn signal and slow down.
- When backing out of a space, be aware of your surroundings. Some motorists will be speeding through lanes trying to find a spot; shoppers and their families will be walking and talking; and someone may be idling close by in hopes of snagging your spot
- Try to avoid parking near the entrances, because traffic will be steady closer to the buildings.
- Be extra careful at the post office. Post office lots have the highest incidence of accidents due to the high turnover.