Common Parking Lot Accidents And How To Avoid Them

Although highways take the cake for the most dangerous car accidents on average, one in five accidents happens in a parking lot. According to the National Safety Council, over 60,000 people are injured in parking lots every year. Additionally, 500 people die per year in parking lot accidents, and there are more than 50,000 crashes in parking lots and garages annually.

Although so many accidents happen in parking areas, people generally regard them as safe, and are not as on-alert in parking lots as they are during normal driving. But what are the most common types of parking lot accidents? What are the reasons that there are so many crashes in lots and garages? Finally, what can drivers and parking lot owners do to increase safety in parking locations?

The most common types of accidents in parking lots

When two drivers back up into each other

It’s hard to look behind you when driving. There are mirrors sure, but they don’t give a full range of view behind your vehicle. You might have to turn your head back to look through your rear window, but that doesn’t always help either, as it leaves a blind spot on the back driver’s side. 

When a driver pulls out of a space in front of another vehicle

It’s often hard to see cars in a densely-packed lot. Especially when a smaller car is pulling out of a space between two larger cars, like a sedan coming out from between to SUVs. This is a recipe for trouble, as the faster car that is already moving might not have time to react to the car pulling out.

The danger of this type of accident is compounded when the driver leaving the spot is backing up. When a driver is backing up out of a parking space, their field of vision is lower, meaning they are less likely to be able to respond to oncoming traffic.

Pedestrian accidents in parking lots

Pulling in and out of spaces is dangerous not only to drivers, but to pedestrians as well. Not only is it difficult to see a car pulling out of a parking space between two other cars, it’s also hard for the driver of that car to see pedestrians. The other cars on either side of the vehicle cut down the field of view, and pedestrians seem to appear out of nowhere. In a 2007 study from the National Center For Statistics and Analysis, there were over 5000 injuries to pedestrians from cars pulling/backing out of parking spaces.

This danger is especially poignant to children. The 2007 study also showed that over one-fifth of children ages 9-5 killed in crashes are pedestrians. Children are particularly at-risk because they don’t know the rules of the road, they are smaller, and they tend to run and move unpredictably compared to adults. 

When two cars crash trying to get into the same space

When two drivers are focused on the spot they want, and not traffic, accidents happen. People become fixated on their space and forget about other drivers doing the same thing. This poses a threat to pedestrians and other motorists.

Why are there so many parking lot-related accidents?

People are fixated on the space they want

As we mentioned earlier, people become fixated on a potential parking space. Even if the space is far away, they will forget the basics of checking for pedestrians and traffic as they get to it. This can obviously lead to accidents.

People are often driving while distracted in lots

Many people use their time in a parking lot to check their phones, or do otherwise non-driving activities. They do so because parking lots have much slower speed limits, and they feel safer in them than on the road. A CBS News article cited a statistic that 66% of drivers feel comfortable making calls in a parking lot, over half would text. About another 50% said they would be comfortable with other uses of their phone, like watching videos or sending emails. According to the National Safety Council president Deborah Hersman: “It’s just as dangerous to be distracted in a parking lot going 5 mph as it is going 50 mph.” 

Long story short, just because parking lots have slower speed limits, doesn’t mean it’s OK to drive distracted in them.

Traffic laws aren’t enforceable in parking lots

Traffic laws apply to the roads and highways, not parking spaces. This can lead to people driving more recklessly in them. You’ve probably seen parking lots with tire marks in a wide circle, where someone decided to do donuts. Reckless driving is a huge cause of accidents, whether in parking lots or on the road.

Parking lots are actually crowded

There can be far more cars in parking lots per square foot than there are on roads. When a parking lot is totally crowded with cars, visibility is low, there are more pedestrians, and more moving vehicles. People get a false sense of security in parking lots because they think that all the other cars are empty. This is an example of confirmation bias, as it’s just harder to see pedestrians and other cars due to the bad visibility in a crowded parking garage.

What can your business do to make the parking lot safer?

Fortunately, we can always make the world safer. 

  • Have clear signs clearly and visibly posted for drivers. Especially speed limit signs and directional signs.
  • Make sure the entire lot/garage is well-lit.
  • Clear the parking lot of debris like snow.
  • Fix potholes, cracks, and other damage.

Looking to make your lot safer?

If you want to ensure that your lot is as safe as it can be, then look no further than Reliable Paving. We are an experienced and highly professional paving contractor. Our specialty is in asphalt paving and maintenance. We can repaint parking lot stripes, fix cracks, fill potholes and much more. Contact us today and we will be happy to answer your questions and/or give you a consultation.