Photo by Valerie Baldowski One of the students behind the wheel waits for the “go” signal before accelerating, in an empty parking lot at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Students who took part in the session, drove through the lot at speeds between 20 mph and 30 mph.
Last minute holiday shoppers hurrying through mall parking lots full of cars, drivers and pedestrians often overlook safety. AAA insurance agents work with many clients who incur damages and are sometimes injured from fender-benders and collisions caused by drivers who are inattentive or who aggressively cut others off for better parking spaces. To keep the holidays bright, cheery and crash-free, drivers should exercise extra caution in busy parking lots and keep safety a top priority.
“Consumers become so overwhelmed by crowds and preoccupied with shopping that they sometimes forget to remain attentive while driving and cause accidents,” said Jim Hanni, executive vice president of public and government affairs at AAA. “It’s important drivers remain alert and carefully maneuver congested parking lots to keep themselves, and those around them, safe.”
AAA insurance agents recommend drivers keep the following tips in mind to prevent fender benders and collisions in crowded parking lots:
* Eliminate distractions. Turn off or stow cell phones and set up navigation devices before you begin driving.
* Watch for pedestrians. Remain cautious of pedestrians on crosswalks and moving in between and behind cars. Be alert especially for children who are not always paying attention.
* Park away from the entrance. Most drivers look for spots closest to the doors, resulting in higher congestion and more difficulty finding and backing out of spots. Find a well-lit area away from crowds to park.
* Pack patience. Remain calm while waiting in parking lot traffic jams. Road rage and aggressive drivers create unsafe situations and can lead to car crashes.
* Turn on headlights. This increases visibility and helps others see your car coming during the day and in dimly-lit parking garages.
* Buckle up. Even at low speeds, a collision can result in real injuries. Make sure everyone has seat belts securely fastened at all times.
If involved in a collision in a parking lot, AAA insurance agents recommend remaining calm and calling 911. In case of injury, send for an emergency medical team. Also, make sure to file an incident report with police. Exchange names, telephone numbers, vehicle details and insurance information with the other driver. If a camera is available, take photos of any vehicle damage. Follow up with your insurance company as soon as possible to report the incident and provide your account of what happened.