Person driving slow in a parking lot to prevent a car accident.

How to prevent car accidents in parking lots

Parking lot accidents happen all too often. Here's what you can do to help prevent them.

You've just turned off a traffic-congested street and into the relative calm of a parking lot. Time to relax, right? Not really. Accidents can also happen in parking lots, so try to be extra alert. And though these low-speed collisions are rarely serious, they can be costly, time consuming and aggravating. Here are some precautions to consider when driving in parking lots.

Slow down and anticipate the actions of other drivers

Parking lots can be filled with obstacles and hazards, but distracted pedestrians and drivers are often the biggest danger. Drivers may cut across empty rows, drive too fast or ignore signs and pavement markings. Slowing down and avoiding distractions can help buy you time to react and possibly avoid a collision. Be especially cautious when turning corners and backing up. Use your turn signals so other drivers and pedestrians can anticipate your next move.

Keep pedestrians in mind

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrians accounted for over 7,500 auto accident deaths during 2022. Though pedestrians may not be looking out for you, it's still your responsibility to look out for them. Obey all crosswalks in the parking lot and keep a wary eye out for any pedestrians who may cross your vehicle's path. When entering particularly high foot-traffic areas, take your foot off the accelerator and cover the brake by resting your foot above the pedal. Anticipate pedestrians even if you don't see any, as they could be weaving between parked cars. If you're in a busy shopping area, remember that people lugging sacks of groceries or other purchases could also be shepherding hard-to-see children or baby strollers. Keep an eye out for small children who might run ahead of their parents.

Distance yourself

Door dings and scratches are aggravating and may be hard to avoid. No matter how courteous and conscientious you are when parking, you can fall victim to someone else's carelessness. One way to help reduce the risk of door damage is to park away from other vehicles. This may be inconvenient, but it's more polite than parking your vehicle across several spaces to keep others from parking near you. And the extra walking is good exercise!

Use your mirrors and backup camera and be aware of your surroundings

Many drivers could benefit from moving the side mirrors further out to help minimize blind spots. Consider adding blind spot mirrors to your side mirrors if your vehicle does not have blind spot technology. It’s also important to turn around and look at what might be behind you when you're backing out of a parking spot. Take advantage of the backup camera and any other technology features like the blind spot warning, if available.

Be extra careful on windy days

Strong winds can easily blow a door or a cart into your car causing dents or scratches, so watch out for stray shopping carts left in the parking lot. Avoid parking close to shopping cart stalls, as some carts might not be secured in the stall and could hit your car. Also use caution when opening your own car door on a windy day to help avoid your door from hitting another car in the parking lot.

Avoid shopping at peak times

Try to avoid days and times when stores are very busy. According to Real Simple, weekends and days before big events like a snowstorm, a big game or a holiday are the busiest days. And consider going early or later during the day, instead of the late afternoon when many people are shopping right after work or school.

What role could insurance play if you had a parking lot accident?

Even if you take all precautions, accidents can still happen. That's why it can be important to have collision insurance. Collision insurance can provide coverage for your vehicle damages regardless of fault. That means you have coverage if someone hits your car, or you accidentally hit an object. A deductible will apply.

Who's at fault in a parking lot accident?

Parking lots are often considered private property. As such, the laws that apply on public roadways may not apply in a parking lot. Your insurance adjustor may undertake an investigation to determine liability.

If you're involved in a parking lot accident, follow the same protocol you would for any accident. Contact authorities if required in your locale as well as your insurance agent as soon as possible to help you through the process.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
State Farm Indemnity Company
Bloomington, IL

State Farm County Mutual Insurance Company of Texas
Richardson, TX

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