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Extra Caution Urged in Parking Lots This Shopping Season

Drivers may be distracted while picking up holiday gifts, making for a potentially dangerous scene. (Pixabay)
Drivers may be distracted while picking up holiday gifts, making for a potentially dangerous scene. (Pixabay)
December 18, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY – Although the search for the perfect gift at the mall can be vicious during the holiday season, the parking lot outside the mall actually is much more dangerous.

Parking lots already are dangerous, leading to more than 50,000 crashes and 500 deaths around the country each year, according to the National Safety Council.

With increased traffic from holiday shoppers, accidents rise this time of year.

Russ Rader, senior vice president for communications with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, sets the bustling scene.

"They may be distracted, thinking about the person they forgot to get a gift for,” he explains. “Maybe they're on the phone, maybe they're eating while driving as they're rushing around to do their holiday shopping. All of those things can lead to crashes."

Rader says when pedestrians are added to the mix, the scene becomes even more dangerous.

He advises drivers to stay focused on the task, don't mess with devices in the car and watch their speed.

He says people also should space out their holiday shopping to avoid the stress of a last minute rush.

Rader says new technologies in vehicles are making them safer.

"Every new vehicle now will have a standard rear view camera, for example, which can help you in backing situations in parking lots,” he points out. “But you shouldn't overly rely on backup cameras because they don't always show you the full picture."

Rader says objects in the shade may not show up on backup cameras, for instance.

He says many new vehicles include another safety feature known as automatic emergency braking. This feature helps prevent a crash if the driver doesn't see an object in time to stop.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - UT