Many car accidents in parking lots are fender benders. The vehicles are typically moving slowly, so the damage tends to be minimal. However, if someone is on foot instead of passing in a car when a vehicle strikes, the chances of damage skyrocket.
Here are three hazards that can cause pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
The National Safety Council reports that more than 60,000 people sustain injuries in parking-lot and parking-garage accidents every year, and about 500 of those are fatal. These do not just happen because of obstructions or other visual difficulties. Instead, they are more likely to occur because someone is looking at an electronic device.
Maybe it is the slow speeds that lull drivers into thinking it is OK to get out the phone and make a call or type in a quick message, or to program the coordinates into the GPS before leaving. More than half of drivers self-reporting in an NSC poll stated that they would text, make phone calls, use social media or send and receive emails while driving in a parking lot. Teens, in particular, see no problem with these dangerous behaviors.
2. Parking-lot issues
Distracted drivers are not the only ones who hit pedestrians. Drivers who cut across lots, drive too fast, ignore lanes and directional signs, and roll through stop signs put everyone in the area in danger.
Poor parking-lot maintenance can create some of the same effects. When areas do not have clear markings, lighting is bad, signs are missing, or there are potholes, poor drainage or uneven pavement, pedestrians are in greater danger.
3. Vehicle technology
Sometimes even someone who is paying attention could strike a pedestrian. Backing up is inherently dangerous, and 9 percent of the yearly fatalities are backup accidents. Many vehicles now come equipped with cameras to help lessen the risk of these types of collisions, but drivers should not rely solely on the view on the screen. They should still check their mirrors and do a head check before backing slowly into the aisle.
Sensors, radar and other detectors that are common on warning systems often are not sensitive or broad enough to identify pedestrians, so drivers should not count on these, either.
With so much potential for hazards, any pedestrian’s best bet is to be on high alert at all times.