You finish putting the groceries in the car, close the trunk, put the cart in the corral, and get in the car. You place the keys in the ignition, and a dinging alert reminds you to put on your seatbelt, and as you put the car in reverse, you contort your neck to look over your shoulder. The squeal oftires, straining to stop, is the only warning before the crunching of plastic.
Parking lots are extremely dangerous. The vast number of blind spots, changing situations, pedestrians, moving vehicles and the inconsistencies of driving patterns lead to a large amount of car crashes. Even worse, pedestrians are more likely to be hit in a parking lot than anywhere else, due to the exposed nature and lack of warning systems.
How many automobile injuries actually occur in parking lots? Well… we don’t know exactly how many. Since parking lot accidents happen on private property, public institutions do not maintain statistics. However, we know from experience that this number is not insignificant.
In order to avoid accidents, there are a number of steps that drivers and pedestrians can take. First, drivers need to be extremely alert and travel at slow speeds. It’s hard to see around other cars in a parking lot. Other cars create visual barriers that can prevent you from seeing other drivers or pedestrians. By going extremely slow at first and gradually increasing the speed of reversing as your visibility gets better, you can avoid a number of unnecessary accidents.
Also, drivers should place their cars into reverse and wait three seconds. For most cars, placing the transmission in the reverse position activates two white lights. These lights not only illuminate the rear, but also indicate one’s intention to back up. By waiting three seconds, pedestrians and other drivers have ample time to pass by or stop. A great example occurs where two drivers, across an aisle, are each about to back up. By waiting, each driver can recognize the intention of the other and take appropriate steps to prevent a collision.
Next, drivers who are not backing up should stop when they see persons who place their vehicles in reverse. Yes, I understand that the person backing up does not have the right-of-way. However, by stopping people can prevent accidents by clearing a path for the person going into reverse.
Alternatively, pedestrians need to take responsibility for their safety by walking on designated walkways. Many of us are accustom to simplywalking down the aisle of the lot where our car is parked. Unfortunately, many drivers cannot see pedestrians even when they maintain an extreme level of alertness.
Pedestrians should maintain awareness of cars that are backing up and pay attention to reverse indicators. Like we mentioned before, if drivers wait three seconds, there should be ample time for a pedestrian to observe the person going into reverse.
As always, the Dolman Law Group, is here to help. If you’re a victim of a crash, in the Clearwater area, please contact our offices for a free consultation and case evaluation.