How to Avoid a Parking Lot Accident

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There’s a whole lot more than parking happening in parking lots. Dodging near misses, getting cut off, searching for a spot, fretting about cars and carts dinging your vehicle–parking lots can be stressful places. And a parking lot accident is often the worst fear of all.

Twenty percent of all accidents happen in parking lots. What’s more, 52 percent of injuries resulting from backover accidents happen when a vehicle backs into a person in a parking lot.

“Many crashes happen in parking lots, and it’s not always easy to avoid them when other drivers aren’t paying attention or are backing out of a space,” says Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to keep you, your car and others safe.

  1. Sloooowww down and proceed with caution. It’s common sense, but a parking lot accident could be avoided by driving at a school-zone speed, keeping your headlights on and using extra caution when turning or backing up.
  2. Correctly set your side mirrors. Many drivers could benefit from moving the side mirrors further out. Also consider adding blind spot mirrors to your side mirrors.
  3. Embrace technology. “If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, you might consider buying one with collision avoidance technology,” says Rader. Initially just in luxury cars, these technologies are now in many mainstream family vehicles.
    • Rear view cameras display what’s behind your car on a screen. If you’re not in the market for a new car, consider installing a standalone backup camera in your current car.
    • Radar and ultrasonic systems beep when they detect an object
      behind your car. (Some will even automatically apply the brakes.)
    • Vehicle cross traffic alert systems use sensors to apply the
      brakes when a vehicle is approaching.
    • Parking assist systems will automatically park your car for
      you. (No more parallel parking!)
  4. If possible, park far away from other cars. Walking is good for you anyway.
  5. Look for pull-through spots. They spare you from having to back out later.
  6. Be extra careful on gusty days. Strong winds can easily knock a door or a cart into your car.
  7. Keep an eye out for stray carts. They can do a number on your vehicle.

If you want to go a step further, try shopping on low-volume days. The Time Use Institute reports that the busiest grocery day and time is Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The least crowded days are Mondays and Tuesdays, especially after 6 p.m.

Of course accidents can still happen even if you’re cautious and do all your shopping at midnight. That’s why it’s important to have collision insurance, which covers damage your car sustains whether it’s your fault or not. That means you’re covered whether you accidentally crash into a lamppost or if your parked car is majorly dinged. That’s reassuring–especially if you’re among these five most notoriously bad parkers.

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