According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, approximately 20 per cent of car accidents that cause damage actually take place in parking lots. The reason for this high percentage? Parking lots contain plenty of activity within a small space – the mixture of pedestrians, stray shopping carts, cars pulling in and out of parking spots and even unexpected skateboarders make for a busy space.
Keep everyone in your car and in your vicinity safe – avoid a parking lot fender bender by following these eight important tips:
1. Slow Down
Although it might seem like common sense, many drivers could avoid parking lot collisions simply by slowing down. When navigating a parking lot, slow down to a school-zone speed (30 km/h to 40 km/h) so you have ample time to react safely to any unexpected cars, pedestrians or shopping carts that cross your path.
2. Stay in Your Lane
Although you’re in a parking lot and not on the road, you should still follow the rules of the road – including staying in your designated right-side lane. Avoid cutting across parking spots to cross the lot and get where you’re going. Avoid driving over parking spots, even if they’re empty, and act as if they were filled with cars.
3. Avoid Distracted Driving
It should go without saying that you should avoid distracted driving in all behind-the-wheel situations, including when in a parking lot. And that means staying off your phone until you’re safely parked – you can check that shopping list as soon as you park. And now, distracted drivers in Ontario face even stiffer penalties: from January 2019 onwards, drivers who talk, text, dial or email on their handheld devices can be served with a three-day license suspension, a fine up to $1,000 and three demerit points.
4. Check Your Blind Spots
Just as you would check your blind spots when driving on residential roads, city streets and high-speed highways, so you should check those all-important blind spots when making your way through a parking lot. Your side mirrors can’t catch what’s in those tricky areas, so check and re-check as much as necessary.
5. Watch Out for Pedestrians
Prepare for extra pedestrians in your vicinity, since parking lots are full of people going to and from their cars, and it’s your responsibility as a driver to look out for them. Obey all crosswalks in the parking lot, and keep an eye out for pedestrians lugging heavy shopping carts and ushering energetic children.
6. Park Away from Other Cars
If possible, park your car away from other vehicles. It might mean a slightly longer walk to your destination, but that’s a small price to pay for safety. Besides, walking is good for your health!
7. Watch for Stray Carts
Keep your eye on rogue shopping carts, since these can do a number on your car’s paint job. If possible, park away from the cart-stalls where people return their shopping carts. A lot of shoppers tend to push their cart into the stall without necessarily making sure it’s securely inside, which means that a sharp gust of wind could steer that cart in your vehicle’s direction.
8. Back Out Safely
As much as our back-up cameras and alert systems can help us stay safe, nothing can fully replace human caution when backing out of a parking spot – that’s why we should be extra cautious when backing out of a parking spot. If possible, avoid having to back out by backing into your parking spot instead – you have better visibility pulling forward out of a parking spot than reversing into it.
What to Do If a Parking Lot Accident Does Occur
Even when taking every precaution, parking lot accidents can still occur, even to the most veteran drivers. If you find yourself in this situation, stay calm, and try not to panic. Make sure everyone is safe, and follow these seven steps.And remember – with Desjardins Insurance, you can easily file a claim by calling our trained professional claims advisors anytime, day or night, at 1-888-785-5502.
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When we think of potential driving danger zones, we most likely think of high-speed situations like highway driving, or stop-and-go traffic driving on city streets. But there’s another often-overlooked driving scenario where accidents can happen more easily than you think – parking lots.
These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.
In Quebec, Desjardins Insurance refers to Desjardins General Insurance Inc. In Ontario and Alberta, Desjardins Insurance refers to Certas Direct Insurance Company, underwriter of automobile and property insurance.