When you finish your holiday shopping, and start to head home, you may be tempted to pick up your cell phone and call someone. But the parking lot is not a safe place and the holidays are not the season.
Unfortunately, car accident claims typically rise during the holidays, as many of us head out shopping or to enjoy holiday lights. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the increase begins around Thanksgiving and Black Friday. We are now approaching one of the worst stretches, the days just before Christmas.
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers urge you to travel slowly and set aside distractions to prevent parking lot crashes. Too many drivers are engaging in these distractions, according to this recent National Safety Council poll:
- 66 percent of drivers nationwide said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots.
- Teens were less likely to make phone calls than adults (60 percent).
- Another 63 percent said they would program GPS systems.
- More than half, 56 percent, said they would text and 52 percent said they would use social media.
- Another 50 percent said yes to sending or receiving e-mails, while 49 percent said they would take photos or watch videos.
- More than half of all teens and adults also admitted they would take time for personal grooming (59 percent of teens; 53 percent of adults).
Tips for Preventing Parking Lot Crashes
- Drive slowly. Give yourself plenty of time to react to pedestrians and other vehicles.
- Do not cut through parking lots; follow the traffic lane.
- Avoid distracted driving activities, such as cell phone use, texting, listening to loud music and engaging in intense discussion.
- Choose your place to check electronics, such as before you leave the mall or store.
- Use blinker signals.
- Obey stop signs and other signs. Back out carefully.
- Always watch for pedestrians in the parking lot and at the entrance. Be extremely patient and always wait for them to reach the sidewalk before moving.
- Walk all the way around your vehicle before stepping inside, looking for pedestrians and parents with small children and baby strollers.
- Consider parking away from other cars to avoid shopping mall parking lot crashes.
The Impact: Parking Lot Crashes
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports parking lot crashes account for about 20 percent of all auto claims. The NSC reports on average each year, there are 60,000 injured by parking lot crashes and 500 or more who die. Pedestrian accidents account for many parking lot crashes. Backup accidents are responsible for nearly 10 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes in parking lots.
Over the past few years, a number of pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts parking lots have been fatal. In 2017, a Trader Joe’s employee in Acton was killed. A year earlier, a 52-year-old woman died in Wilmington, outside a Rite-Aid. In 2015, a pedestrian was killed in the parking lot of the Cloverleaf Mall in Natick, just across the street from the Natick Collection (or the old Natick Mall).
Cell Phone Use and Massachusetts Law
Eight years ago, Massachusetts banned texting while driving. If you are texting or writing an e-mail and cause a car crash, you could be cited by police. If you injure another driver, the police citation could be used in a civil lawsuit to prove your negligence and you will have to pay compensation to the victim.
All but three states have texting while driving bans. Hand-held cell phone bans are a different story, with just 16 states approving bans. Hand-held cell phones are still permitted when driving in Massachusetts, but safety advocates urge drivers not to use them, especially in parking lots. In a matter of seconds, a simple act such as trying to look up GPS directions or dialing a friend can lead to a serious and possibly fatal accident.
Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244
If you have been injured in a parking lot crash, it is important to learn your legal rights for seeking financial compensation under Massachusetts law. Contacting a Boston car accident lawyer promptly is essential so they can act quickly to protect your rights.
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured in auto collisions. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.