Automotive Research

Avoid a vehicle collision when facing holiday shopping crowds

A parking lot with cars looking for a spot, seen from overhead

The holidays are time for family, friends, and celebration. 

It’s also a busy shopping season, when many retailers make or break their entire year. Big sales entice shoppers, and the malls become very crowded. Shoppers are probably not thinking about the possibility of getting into an accident, but in 2016 nearly a third of vehicle collisions happened in parking lots. AAA would like to remind drivers to be cautious year-round, both on the road and in parking lots.

What the data shows

Insurance claims data from AAA found that 29% of all 2016 vehicle collisions took place in parking lots. Of those incidents, 91% were backing collisions. While parking lot collisions may occur at slow speeds and result in few injuries, they can still put a damper on your holiday spirit—not to mention your wallet.  

What can drivers do?

AAA encourages drivers to pay close attention this holiday season while running from store to store. Pedestrians, children, and other vehicles are potential targets, and the chances of collision increase as shopping centers become more crowded.  Here are some tips for avoiding an accident:

  • Drive slowly inside parking lots and garages.  Getting that great deal is not worth the risks of speeding around to find a parking space.
  • Stay off your mobile device and always watch for pedestrians and other vehicles.  Remember, they may not be paying attention to their surroundings.
  • Continuously check your mirrors when reversing out of a parking space, and back slowly.  Someone may be speeding through the lot and not pause for you to get out.
  • Back out slowly from your parking space, especially if you’re near large vehicles. Pause once you can see beyond the vehicles parked next to you; this allows passing drivers to see you.
  • If you feel comfortable doing so, back into your parking space.  This means you’ll be able to pull straight out of your spot with better visibility.
  • Park further away. The closer the spaces are to the store or mall entrance, the more vehicle congestion there is going to be.  Parking further will help you avoid a possible collision, and you’ll likely face less pressure from impatient shoppers racing to find the “perfect” spot.
  • Use your turn signals even in parking lots.  Doing so lets other drivers know your intention, which can prevent collisions and reduce aggression.
  • For your next vehicle, consider a model equipped with a rear cross-traffic alert system. This technology detects approaching vehicles, which helps drivers “see” further when backing out of parking spots.
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