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The Most Dangerous Place During the Holidays

A NEAR MISS

There I was, in the parking lot of a crowded shopping plaza last week. I had my turn signal on, and after waiting for traffic to pass, turned left into the lane to look for a parking spot. Suddenly, a little car backs out of its space at high speed, heading straight for me. Looking quickly in my rear view mirror, I throw my SUV into reverse just in time to avoid being hit by the reckless driver in front of me. The driver, whose cigarette was dangling out the window, had never even bothered to look back before careening out of her space with abandon. If another car had been behind me, and I had not been able to back up so fast…

I would have been one of the statistics about accidents in parking lots at this time of year. Anyone who has been shopping around the holidays will not be surprised to learn that the number of parking lot crashes spikes in the months of November and December. According to AAA, 14% of all car accidents occur in parking lots and span the gamut from fender benders and dented car doors to more serious accidents such as back-overs and hitting pedestrians. In fact, marketwatch.com stated that: “The most dangerous place during the holidays: the mall parking lot.”

DISTRACTED, ANYONE?

What accounts for this? After all, the opposite would appear to be true; the lower speed and less traffic generally found in shopping mall parking lots would lead one to believe that these areas are safer and have fewer accidents than roads and highways. This faulty assumption is part of the problem, however. Drivers and pedestrians alike assume that parking lots are safer than they really are, and therefore pay less attention to regulations than they need to while in them. For example, how many of us have failed to stop at a stop sign, whether posted or painted on the ground in a parking lot or garage? How many of us have gone down an up lane or vice-versa? These are traffic violations that create liability—regardless of whether the stop sign or lane direction is in a parking lot.

In addition to these violations, accidents in parking lots are caused by one of the main culprits of accidents on the open roads: the cell phone. According to the National Safety Council, distracted driving is responsible for 50,000 crashes in parking lots and garages annually, resulting in 500 deaths and 60,000 injuries. Distracted pedestrians are causing accidents, too; people looking down at their phones and stepping out into the middle of lanes of parking lots rather than walking in crosswalks or along the sides of cars are getting hit by vehicles.

WHAT TO DO

First and foremost, put down the phone! Keep your eyes on the road, whether you are driving or walking. Be a defensive driver and walker, alert to others who are not being careful. Second and equally as important, slow down! Parking lots are full of pedestrians walking everywhere, kids running everywhere, drivers darting in and out of parking spaces without looking—as in my near-miss situation—or cutting off other drivers to get a parking space, and carts rolling around all over the place. In other words, parking lots and garages during the holiday shopping season are pure chaos. So stay focused, and not just on your shopping list.

CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in a shopping mall parking lot or garage, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

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Thomas Law Firm
Located at 945 East Paces Ferry Road, Resurgens Plaza, GA 30326.

Phone: (678) 264-8348.
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