August 24, 2020

Explained: How to Deal with & Prevent Parking Lot Accidents

Any accident is inconvenient, but parking lot accidents tend to feel particularly irksome. They happen with increased frequency around the holidays as shoppers whiz in and out of parking lots and pedestrians mill about. What should you do if you find yourself involved in a parking lot accident, and how can you work to prevent them from happening? Below are tips for avoiding parking lot accidents as well as five important steps you should take if you find yourself in one. 

How to Avoid Parking Lot Accidents

Five of the most common parking lot accidents are as follows: 

  1. Two drivers back into each other from opposite sides of the parking aisles. 
  2. A driver backs out of a parking space and hits a car already in the aisle
  3. Two drivers make a move for the same parking space at the same time
  4. A driver proceeds forward from a parking space into oncoming traffic
  5. Stop sign fender benders

The National Safety Council suggests that drivers anticipate the actions of other drivers, conduct 360-degree checks before moving into reverse, drive slowly and use signals, and stay alert. Additionally, it is unwise to cut across lots and lines, and it’s important to obey traffic signs as posted. Finally, pulling through a parking space when possible has been shown to be helpful in reducing parking lot accidents. 

prevent parking lot accidents

Steps to Take to Deal with Parking Lot Accidents

Despite your best efforts, accidents happen in the moments we are even slightly distracted. Additionally, blind spots in our vehicles can contribute to misperceptions of traffic and timing. There are five important steps one should take following an accident in a parking lot. 

  1. Check for injuries and call for help if necessary. If anyone seems to be dazed or hurt, call 9-1-1 for medical help. Try to keep yourself and others calm at the scene until help can arrive. 
  2. Call the police. In many states, it’s necessary to report traffic incidents if damage estimates reach a certain threshold. It’s better to go ahead and call e thpolice to report the accident even if they cannot come to the scene. In some cases, police will not respond if damages are minimal or inclement weather inhibits their coming. 
  3. Gather information. You and the other person or person involved need to swap information that includes name, driver’s license number(s), insurance information, phone number, and license plate details. 
  4. Take photos. Any damage, broken glass, skid marks, or property damage should be documented with photos. It doesn’t need to be professional; it can just be from an iPhone. But be sure to get all angles. 
  5. Call your insurance representative. Regardless of the fault or predicted outcome, it is always good to contact your insurance company and let them know what happen. They will ask questions and get your side of the story and let you know what to expect next. They can be your greatest assets moving forward, so don’t leave them in the dark. 

Questions of Fault

Every situation is different, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind when trying to decide whether you might be at fault or someone else is. Generally speaking, the car in motion, if the other car is not, will be the driver at fault. However, if both drivers are in motion, traffic laws govern, and the person who has the right of way will not be at fault. This is not the case in every situation, but they are good rules of thumb to keep in mind. 

Final Thoughts

It’s crucial to remain alert at all times when driving through a parking lot. Stay off your phone unless you are parked, and keep your eyes open for traffic signs. It’s your job to drive for yourself and to anticipate the moves of others. 

For more information and resources regarding this topic, see the National Security Council:

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