In this age of distraction, parking lots can be one more place to become an accident victim. Any traffic is in the rear-view mirror. There’s plenty of space as you find a place for your wheels to rest. You relax for a second, or two, exhale even, when, seemingly out of nowhere, a car backs up almost in front of you.
No harm. No foul. Just two car horns honking and maybe a certain finger hoisted.
Chicagoland’s parking areas can be as dangerous as any others, mixing pedestrians (paying attention or not), blind spots, reduced sight-lines, more frequent turns, distracted drivers, and the ever-present element of speed.
In 2016, the National Safety Council (NSC) polled 2,500 drivers about distracted driving. Sixty-seven percent said they felt at risk from drivers whose attention was taken by technology, and 25 percent admitted they put themselves and others at risk because of their own use of technology while driving.
But for every distraction, including phone calls, texting, social media and complicated electronic dashboards, both groups admitted a higher likelihood of technology use in parking lots than on the highway or city streets. There, they feel they can let their guards down.
“Parking lots are an afterthought to a lot of people,’’ said James A. Solomon, director of Defensive Driving Program at the NSC.
But more than 50,000 crashes occur annually in parking lots and garages, resulting in more than 60,000 injuries.
New safeguards are underway
In order to address the issue of parking lot safety, new and improved safeguards are being taken, as discussed in a Safety and Health Magazine article. The Parking Advisory Group LLC designs parking areas, analyzes existing lots and makes recommendations for improvements.
Jerry Marcus, the company’s president, says, “I try to keep 2,000-pound vehicles away from the 200-pound human as much as I can.’’
He suggests parking areas include:
- One-way lanes to minimize driver distraction and methods to minimize speed, including rumble strips, which produce a sound mimicking acceleration.
- Raised crosswalks designated for pedestrians and designed to encourage drivers to slow down.
- Lighting should be high, powerful and maintained. One dim area can cause an accident on the early and late shifts.
In the meantime, Marcus urges pedestrians to use caution when walking through a parking lot. They should not walk between vehicles, rather than behind them. The safest place for a person to walk is down the middle of the aisle, where they are most visible.
It may take time for new developments to be put in place. But for now, pedestrians and drivers can do their part to make Chicago parking lots safer. Should you be the victim of a parking lot accident, contact the law office of Coplan & Crane. We’ll fight for your rights.