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How safe are parking lots?

Most people will agree that one of the more dangerous driving scenarios is to be on a jammed freeway jockeying for position among a sea of commuters heading to work or home. That’s certainly true, as many California drivers can attest.

However, fewer consider that parking lots can present significant hazards to motorists and pedestrians as well. In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) determined that there are approximately 50,000 collisions annually in parking lots and garages. In those accidents, 60,000 people suffer injuries and at least 500 die.

More than a third of pedestrians who were killed in parking lots died when drivers were backing up their vehicles. This occurred even though back-up cameras are increasingly common in newer cars.

Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to injuries in even low-speed collisions with vehicles. They can wind up with soft tissue injuries and fractures that leave them unable to work and carry out their normal daily activities. Some of these collisions are undoubtedly due to the 66 percent of distracted drivers who feel that it’s all right to break the law and use hand-held cellphones while they drive around the lot looking for a parking place.

Some 63 percent of people who responded to the NSC survey admitted programming GPS systems while driving in parking lots. Another 56 percent self-reported texting. Over half (52 percent) even admitted that they used social media while behind the wheel in a parking lot.

It’s important to note that simply because you are in an enclosed area like a parking garage or designated lot in the open air, traffic rules and regulations still apply.

If you were injured while driving or walking in a parking lot or garage, find out what your legal options are for seeking compensation for your expenses and damages.