Parking lots are a common sight in the US and so are accidents that take place in them. A staggering one of every five motor vehicle accidents take place in a parking lot, and 14% of all claims of auto damage involve collisions therein. One of the major reasons behind collisions, injuries and fatalities that happen in parking lots is the false sense of security motorists and pedestrians feel. Pedestrians and drivers expect traffic to move more slowly, which means that caution takes a backseat.
While crashes between two vehicles account for some of these numbers, pedestrians are also often struck by vehicles moving in and out from parking spaces. A simple slip, trip or fall in the parking lot due to uneven surfaces or holes can also result in severe injuries.
Tragically, an average of 206 people (drivers and pedestrians) were killed each year in work-related parking lot accidents.
The Plight of Pedestrians
1. Work Related Parking Lot Accidents
Injuries in parking lots can also mean lost working days and lost productivity when an employee is involved. In some cases, the company may have to bear the entire cost and pay compensation when an employee is injured while performing an activity relating to work, in a parking lot owned or run by the company.
A research report published by Gregory M. Fayard, (Economist with the BLS) on work-related fatal injuries in parking lots (1993-2002) reveals that pedestrian fatalities make up 13 per cent of all the accidents that occur in parking lots. According to the 2010 report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on fatal occupational injuries by event or exposure, 126 of the total 277 pedestrians injured due to being struck by a vehicle or mobile equipment at workplace took place in a parking lot.
2. Pedestrian Accidents in Parking/Parking Lots Involving Children
NHTSA estimates that 22 percent (more than one-fifth) of children between ages 5 and 9 killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians. Most of these accidents occurred because drivers failed to see kids while backing up their vehicles.
Below is the table that accounts for non–traffic fatalities and injuries as per NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis for the year 2007:
|Non-occupant in Non-traffic Crash: Backing Vehicle||
|Non-occupant Struck by Driverless Vehicle||
|Non-occupant in Non-traffic Crash: Forward-Moving Vehicle||
Causes of Parking Lot Accidents
- Drivers entering a parking lot keep an eye on a vacant spot and often neglect to watch for other drivers and pedestrians who are on the move.
- Many drivers pull ‘head in’ to a parking spot after which they must back out. While backing out, blind zones created by vehicles parked alongside the spot obstruct the driver’s vision.
- Traffic laws aren’t enforceable in parking lots, which can create reckless driving and confusion.
- Parking lots are congested, accommodating a high amount of vehicular traffic and pedestrians.
Dangerous Parts of a Parking Lot
- Places with low or dim lighting in parking lots are likelier sites for criminal activity, and the low visibility can also result in slips, trips and falls.
- Parts of a parking lot where snow or debris accumulates can prove dangerous to drivers and pedestrians alike.
- The exit of a parking lot can also be risky. Boom gates used by parking lots to restrict the movement of vehicles without paying the parking charges can injure drivers, passengers or pedestrians who are trying to move past it.
Tips For Staying Safe in a Parking Lot
- 25 percent of all parking lot accidents are caused by vehicles backing up. It is advisable that you watch out for other drivers and pedestrians while doing so.
- Comply with the signs posted like stop signs or speed limit signs.
- Turn on headlights (during daytime too) to reduce the risk of crashing.
- Try to park farther away from the entrance, where traffic is less congested.
- Buckle up. Accidents can happen anytime.
- Park in areas that are well-lit.
- Parking lot rules also apply to pedestrians. Refrain from walking in the middle of the lane, do not text while walking, and make use of marked crosswalks.