Most people feel a sense of relief and, perhaps, accomplishment when they finally arrive at their destination. On the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, many people are still on route back from their Thanksgiving festivities. However, many other people – workers and shoppers alike – may head to shops and stores for the beginning of the traditional holiday shopping season. As workers and shoppers alike head for the stores and shops after Thanksgiving, it is highly likely that few will realize that the most dangerous part of their journey may be the time they spend in the store’s parking lot.
In fact, a recent report from the National Safety Council finds that drivers and pedestrians routinely and unjustifiably dismiss the accident risks found in parking lots. Rather than remaining on guard until entering the store, far too many motorists and pedestrians allow themselves to be distracted. The surge of holiday traffic in and around shopping centers only exacerbates the risks presented by these distracted drivers and pedestrians.
Drivers Are at Risk of a Distracted Driving Crash in Store Parking Lots, Mall Garages, and other Parking Areas
According to the National Safety Council’s publication, Injury Facts 2016, more than 50,000 vehicular accidents occur in parking lots and other parking areas each year. If one is tempted to dismiss these accidents and collisions as “minor” merely because of vehicles in parking areas often travel at lower speeds, consider that these crashes produced 500 or more deaths and at least 60,000 injuries. Furthermore, these injury rates may be trending upwards as, overall, motor vehicle deaths are up 9 percent for the first six months of 2016 compared to the first six months of the previous year.
Perhaps what is most troubling regarding the situation is the finding that drivers appear more willing to take their eyes off of the road and engage in distractions when in a parking area. In fact, a majority of drivers indicated that they felt comfortable programming a GPS (63 percent) or checking Facebook, Twitter, and other social media (52 percent). 50 percent of drivers indicated that they would send or receive e-mails while driving through a parking lot. Significant percentages of drivers indicated that they routinely engaged in the following activities while traveling through a parking lot:
- Take photos or watch videos (49 percent)
- Use a smartwatch (43 percent)
- Surf the Internet (43 percent)
- Video chat (42 percent)
According to Deborah A.P. Hersman, President & CEO of the National Safety Council:
Parking lots are intense driving environments that require both drivers and pedestrians to pay close attention. It is discouraging that so many drivers are willing to add distractions to that mix. When you’re in a parking lot, you need to be hyper-vigilant to the risks surrounding you – just because speeds are lower doesn’t mean you are safe.
Teen drivers did not present the risk that many would probably expect and are less likely than an adult to talk on the phone or use certain electronic devices while driving through a parking lot. Perhaps this is a sign that this demographic that has been the target of distracted driving public awareness campaign has received the message. However, adults may be continuing to justify bad habits with their driving experience or the demands of a “busy lifestyle.”
Pedestrians in a Parking Lot Also Face Serious Injury Risks
Pedestrians also face serious risks in store and other parking areas. This risk is further exacerbated by distractions while walking. In fact, over a ten year period, at least 11,000 pedestrians suffered serious injury due to being distracted by their phone. A pedestrian who has his or her eyes on a phone screen often will not see a speeding vehicle, a crack in the pavement, or a patch of ice. While each of these mechanisms for injury is simple and straightforward, they can nevertheless inflict serious or fatal injuries.
Unfortunately, like the rate of driving accidents, pedestrian accidents have also increased thus far in 2016. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found the pedestrian fatalities jumped more than nine percent from 2014 to 2015. The number of pedestrian deaths in 2015 was the most on record since 1996. This is clearly a serious issue that is resulting in far too many preventable injuries and deaths. Hurt in the Pennsylvania area? Contact a Northeast Philadelphia personal injury lawyer to see if you have a case.
Hurt in a Mall or Store Parking Lot and In Need of a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury due to a negligent driver in a shopping center parking lot, the Philadelphia pedestrian accident injury attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm may be able to fight for you. To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation, call our Philadelphia law firm at (215) 246-9000 today.