The Parking Lot Peril: Investigating the Surprising Frequency of Low-Speed Collisions in Arizona

Parking lots may seem like safe, mundane places. However, data shows that low-speed collisions in parking lots are surprisingly common in Arizona. This article will examine the frequency and causes of these minor yet pervasive crashes.

The Prevalence of Parking Lot Crashes

While collisions on highways and busy streets grab headlines, a different category of common crash flies under the radar: the parking lot fender-bender.

Around 50,000 accidents occur in parking lots and garages each year. That means collisions occur not on roads, but in the parking areas outside stores, offices, malls, and other facilities.

Most parking lot crashes are low-speed, involving average speeds of just 5-10 mph. Property damage is generally minimal. However, these minor collisions add up.

Key Factors Leading to Parking Lot Crashes

What explains the significant number of low-speed collisions happening in Arizona parking lots? Experts point to some key factors.

  • Driver Distraction – Drivers may be occupied with conversations, electronic devices, or looking for open spots. Lack of full attention leads to reduced reaction time. Studies show that hands-free mobile devices do not eliminate distraction the way drivers think they do. Calling or texting from the parking lot, not while driving, is the safest policy.
  • Poor Visibility – Parked cars, pillars, and vegetation can block sight lines for drivers navigating tight parking lot aisles. Blind corners and spots increase crash risk. Carefully pulling past obstructions and stopping again to reassess surroundings can help. Taking a wider turn radius when visibility is low also improves safety.
  • Careless Backing Up – A major cause of parking lot crashes is drivers inadvertently backing into other cars. The limited rear visibility of many vehicles contributes to these collisions. Glancing behind you as you put the car in reverse gets you in the habit of checking. Backing into spaces upon arrival lets you pull forward with better visibility when exiting.
  • Pedestrian Interactions – With cars and pedestrians intermingling, the chance of collisions rises. Distracted walking also plays a role. Making eye contact with drivers before crossing behind vehicles establishes awareness. Pedestrians should avoid distractions and keep their eyes moving to spot approaching cars.
  • Congestion – Busy parking lots with densely packed cars lead to more potential collision points. Navigating congested parking facilities requires extra care. Driving to a remote area of the lot can reduce collision exposures from density. Taking a brief pause at the parking lot entrance helps assess traffic before entering.
  • Unclear Signs/Lanes – Inadequate signs, lane markings, and traffic indicators in some lots create confusion and collisions. Uncontrolled intersections also present risks. When in doubt, yielding right of way until another driver definitively signals or goes prevents conflicts. Expecting the unexpected and driving defensively is key.

Avoiding Parking Lot Crashes

While parking lot crashes will likely never be fully eliminated, there are ways to reduce their frequency:

  • Drivers should minimize distractions, follow posted signs/indicators, and maintain very low speeds. Going no faster than 5-10 mph can give drivers extra time to react in parking lots. Allowing passengers to engage with mobile devices while the driver focuses on navigating can also help reduce distraction-related collisions.
  • Backing out cautiously and being watchful for pedestrians are also smart practices. Tapping the brakes before backing up alerts pedestrians to your intent to move. Taking a second to check side mirrors for any movement behind your vehicle can help avoid backing into other cars.
  • Drivers can reduce crash risk by using technology aids like backup cameras and parking sensors. Parking guidance systems available on many new vehicles make finding a spot and staying centered in a space easier. Blind spot monitoring helps detect objects and pedestrians drivers may not see when turning or backing up.
  • Facilities can make improvements like adding stop signs, directional arrows on the ground, and better pedestrian walkways. Painting curbs with high visibility colors designates pedestrian-only zones clearly. Sectioning large parking lots into smaller segments with traffic calming measures also promotes safety.
  • Law enforcement can also run public education campaigns on parking lot safety. Enforcing speed limits and distracted driving laws in parking areas reminds drivers to exercise caution. Partnering with schools and companies to distribute parking lot safety tips raises public awareness.

Staying Alert to Hidden Dangers

Parking lots may not seem as dangerous as highways. However, the statistics show these areas pose real collision risks in Arizona. Drivers and lot owners must remain alert to these hidden perils. With smart prevention strategies, needless parking lot crashes can be reduced, improving safety and cutting costs.

Have you been hurt in a parking lot fender bender? If so, get in touch with us today. We have offices in 32 locations and 19 states, including Arizona, Ohio, and South Carolina.

Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.