A car driving in a parking lot

Prevent parking lot crashes

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. It's actually a time to be extra alert. Accidents can even happen in parking lots. And though these low-speed collisions are rarely serious, they can be costly, time consuming and aggravating. Protect yourself and your vehicle by following these tips.

  • Slow down and anticipate the actions of other drivers. Parking lots are filled with obstacles and hazards, but often the biggest danger is other drivers. They may cut across empty rows, drive too fast or ignore signs and pavement markings. Slowing down will buy you time to react and possibly avoid a collision. Be especially cautious when turning corners and backing up.
  • Keep pedestrians in mind. The National Safety Council analysis of government data shows that 9% of pedestrian deaths are the result of backup accidents. Though pedestrians may not be looking out for you, it's still your responsibility to look out for them. Keep a wary eye out for any pedestrians who may cross your vehicle's path and obey all crosswalks in the parking lot. When entering particularly high foot-traffic areas, take your foot off the accelerator and cover the brake. Anticipate pedestrians even if you don't see any. 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. So be sure to keep an eye out for small children who might run ahead of their parents.
  • Distance yourself. Door dings and scratches are aggravating and 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 reduce the risk of door damage is to park away from other vehicles. This may be inconvenient, but it's considerably more polite than parking your vehicle across several spaces to keep others from parking near you. And the extra walking is good exercise!
  • Set your side mirrors correctly. Many drivers could benefit from moving the side mirrors further out. Also consider adding blind spot mirrors to your side mirrors.
  • Install backup cameras if your car doesn't have them.
  • Be extra careful on windy days. Strong winds can easily knock a door or a cart into your car causing dents or scratches, so watch out for stray shopping carts left in the parking lot.
  • Look for pull-through spots. If you pull forward, you don't have to back out later.
  • Use turn signals. This will help drivers and pedestrians alike know your next move.
  • Avoid shopping at peak times. According to Retail Aware, a business intelligence firm, the busiest grocery days to shop are Saturday and Sunday. The best time to shop, especially during a pandemic when you want to social distance, are Wednesdays and Thursdays. And going as early as possible in the day might get you a better parking spot.

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

Even if you take all precautions, accidents can still happen. That's why it's important to have collision insurance. Collision insurance covers your vehicle damages no matter who is at fault. That means you're covered 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 most often considered private property. As such, the laws that apply on public roadways may not apply in a parking lot. Your insurance adjustor will 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 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.

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