Pedestrians, Beware the Humble Parking Lot
Let’s pretend you’re heading to the store for some last-minute supplies—your aunt and uncle just dropped in, and you want to have a nice meal at home. You manage to squeeze your SUV into the last row at Corona Del Mar Plaza and you slip out the door, intent on your shopping list. But as you step into the lane, you hear an engine that sounds close—way too close. Next thing you know, something cold and hard hits your legs from behind and you fall face-first on the asphalt.
A car door opens, and you hear a women’s frightened voice: “Are you all right?” Or perhaps you hear a man’s angry voice, blaming you for walking where he was driving. As you slowly register your bleeding palms and a worrying pain in your hip, you realize: I’ve been hit by a car.
Like thousands of other Americans, you’ve become the victim of a parking lot accident. How does this happen?
Why Parking Lots Are so Dangerous for Pedestrians
Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie has seen some truly horrific injuries caused when pedestrians are hit by cars. Though vehicles are supposed to move slowly in parking lots, many lots are private and do not have posted speed limits. Add a lot of foot traffic, the difficulty of seeing over parked cars, distractions caused by cell phones, and people in a hurry, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Though drivers are less likely to report fender benders that take place in parking lots and garages, these collisions are extremely common. According to MyParkingSign.com, one in five crashes in the United States take place in a parking lot, and about 14% of all auto damage claims as well!
On a sad note, an estimated 200 people are killed each year in parking lots, both pedestrians and drivers. Unfortunately, a large number of these are pedestrians… and children. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 22% of children between the ages of 5 and 9 who are killed in traffic crashes are pedestrians. Most deaths occurred because a driver was backing up without looking. In total, about 5,000 injuries in the year 2007 were due to parking lot accidents.
What Can We Do to Prevent These Accidents?
When drivers enter a parking lot, especially in Southern California, they tend to “lock in” to any open space they can find, and ignore other things—including pedestrians. Plus, when a driver is backing out of a space, he has a lot of blind spots. Crowded conditions make things worse, and so does distraction. Take a breath, pause, take another look around, and follow these guidelines:
- Obey all posted signs in the parking lot.
- Take note of pedestrian paths as you enter and exit.
- Don’t park in a densely populated area, if you can help it—park closer to the exit.
- Don’t travel over 15 miles per hour, unless you’re on a thoroughfare heading to the main road and have a clear path. When pedestrians are around you, go closer to 5 mph.
- At night, park in well-lit areas and use your headlights.
- Never use your cell phone while your car is still moving.
For pedestrians, it’s important to use marked walkways, travel in groups when you can, not dart out suddenly from parked cars, and avoid using a cell phone while walking. Though we can all take steps to stay safer, we can’t avoid all accidents, if just one driver is careless or negligent. But we can take steps afterward to get you back on the road to recovery.
Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie has helped many injured pedestrians in Orange County get the compensation they need after being struck by a car. Call (949) 752-7474 to talk to an OC pedestrian accident attorney today!
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