Those of us who live and work in Los Angeles spend hours each week (if not every day) in our cars. Driving the freeways, canyons and surface streets can be nerve-wracking, so many people let down their guard and relax once they pull into a parking lot or structure. In a survey by the National Safety Council, two-thirds of respondents admitted to engaging in distracted behaviors in these areas.
According to EHS Today, an occupational health and safety magazine, over 60,000 people are injured and about 500 are killed annually in parking area crashes. Some 10% of those fatalities are the result of a driver backing into a pedestrian.
How you can reduce your risk of a collision
Unfortunately, you can’t make other people safer drivers (or more alert pedestrians) in parking areas. You can only be responsible for your own actions. You can reduce your risk of a parking lot crash by doing the following every time you enter (or leave) a lot or garage:
- Eliminate distractions: Now isn’t the time to take out your phone, check your hair or start gathering your belongings. The same is true when you leave. Program your GPS before you pull out.
- Drive slowly: This makes it easier to react to cars or people who unexpectedly get in your path.
- Obey signs (including arrows): Keep to your side of the road and note one-way lanes.
- Use your turn signals: It never hurts to signal your intentions.
- Turn on headlights if necessary: Some parking garages can be dark, even during the day. It’s always wise to be as visible as possible.
- Walk all the way around your car before you get in: This can help you spot kids or animals who might be hiding or playing around your vehicle. Before you back out, look over your shoulders again in addition to looking at your back-up camera.
Of course, when you’re walking in a parking area, it’s crucial to be aware of your surroundings and any drivers who may be preparing to back up. Make sure that they see you.
If you suffer an injury in a parking lot or structure, particularly if you’re struck by a vehicle while walking, then it’s crucial not to underestimate the potential seriousness of it. Be sure you get a full medical evaluation before you settle with the at-fault driver or their insurer. Legal guidance can be valuable in obtaining the compensation you need.