Parking Lots Are More Dangerous than You Think

As we get out of our houses and back into shops and stores, chances increase for a parking lot accident. The Delaware car accident attorneys at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman can help you file an injury claim. Contact us in Wilmington, Newark, or Seaford for legal help.

During the shorter and darker days of winter, it is important to take extra care in parking lots and garages, both as a driver and pedestrian, to avoid car accidents and collisions.

Parking Lots Are More Dangerous than You Think

Even though it might appear that parking lots are safer because we drive at slower speeds, these areas are actually dangerous and people lose their lives in preventable accidents every year. Parking lots – especially in shopping centers and other bustling areas – tend to be busy and chaotic, with pedestrians and vehicles in each other’s way and a lot of distracted individuals in one place.

By virtue of having a driver’s license, motorists owe a duty of care to other vehicles on the road, as well as to pedestrians and bicyclists. This duty of care starts as soon as anyone gets behind the wheel, whether they are backing out of their driveway, cruising on the interstate, or searching for a spot in a parking lot. Whether it is a parking lot at a shopping mall, place of worship, school, or office center, the same rules apply.

CBS News highlighted the risks of parking lot accidents back in 2016, but the dangers remain today. In the video, Deborah Hersman of the National Safety Council (NSC) said, “It’s just as dangerous to be distracted in a parking lot going 5 mph as it is going 50 mph. People have their heads down, they’re on their phones whether they’re behind the wheel or whether they are pedestrians. There’s just a lot of inattention out there.”

Parking lots mean distracted drivers (and pedestrians)

Although it is true that parking lots have lower speed limits and are designed so cars move more slowly, these areas are still full of activity, including people with shopping carts, strollers, and small children. Add in motorists busy searching for spots, backing in and out of spots, and people distracted looking for their keys or talking on the phone, and one moment of inattention can cause a preventable tragedy.

The NSC reports that the majority of parking lot accidents occur as a result of distracted driving. In a nationwide survey, they found drivers self-reported engaging in a dangerous amount of distracted driving behaviors in parking lots. Drivers reported driving while:

  • Making phone calls - 66%
  • Programming their GPS - 63%
  • Texting - 56%
  • Using social media - 52%
  • Sending or receiving emails - 50%
  • Taking photos or watching videos - 49%

One of the most deadly types of parking lot, garage, and driveway accidents are “backover accidents.”

Backover accidents cause thousands of injuries each year

Backover accidents are exactly what they sound like; when a vehicle backs over a pedestrian or cyclist behind it. The most common scenes of backover accidents are parking lots and driveways, as drivers typically reverse out of these spaces. Because these areas have no type of traffic signal or sign, drivers must rely on their own judgement to ensure their path is clear when backing up.

In 2015, about 188,000 vehicles were involved in backover accidents in the United States. The problem became so widespread that in 2018 Congress and the US Department of Transportation enacted a requirement for all automakers to install backup cameras in all new vehicles. However, backup cameras are not a panacea for older cars or careless drivers.

Backover, also called backing-up, accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, including distraction, failure to check blind spots, pedal confusion, or putting the vehicle in the wrong gear. Small children are especially vulnerable to backover accidents. The consumer safety organization Kids and Cars reports that in 2020, 23 children lost their lives to backover accidents.

They also report:

  • “In the U.S. at least fifty children are being backed over by vehicles EVERY week.
  • The predominant age of victims is one year olds. (12-23 months)
  • Over 60% of backing up incidents involved a larger size vehicle. (truck, van, SUV )
  • Tragically, in over 70% of these incidents, a parent or close relative is behind the wheel.”

You can view the Kids and Cars Backover Fact Sheet here for more information.

Preventing parking lot and backover accidents

You cannot prevent the actions of a careless driver – but you can take steps to avoid causing an accident or becoming a statistic. Consider the following tips for avoiding backover accidents:

  • Know your vehicle’s blind spots, whether or not you have rear-view camera technology.
  • Look around your car before getting in, including underneath. Be extra attentive if you notice children playing nearby.
  • Turn down the audio in your car or your headphones and crack or open your windows so you can hear what is going on around you as you back out of your driveway or parking space.
  • Reverse slowly and cautiously and be ready to stop in an instant.
  • Never rely on your vehicle’s cameras and sensors alone – they are not foolproof.

When you are driving in a parking lot, consider these tips:

  • Drive slowly and anticipate the actions of other drivers and pedestrians.
  • Try to park away from other vehicles. It might be inconvenient, but it could also save you from a fender-bender or door dings/scratches.
  • Look for “pull-through” spots. If you can pull through and park facing forward, you will not have to reverse out later.
  • Always use your turn signals in a parking so other drivers and pedestrians know what you are doing.

If you are injured in a parking lot or backover accident that was not your fault, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. The car accident attorneys at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman can help. We will investigate the circumstances of your accident, work with insurance companies, and ensure your medical bills and lost wages are fairly compensated. Get in touch with us today for experienced legal advocacy. Call us at 302-888-2900 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment at one of our offices in Wilmington, Seaford, or Newark.