Parking lots are one of the few places where pedestrians and motorists meet at a high density. Some well-designed parking lots have designated walking areas that separate pedestrians from drivers. Many parking lots, however, are more of a free-for-all.
The greatest dangers pedestrians face in Ohio parking lots are driver inattention and speeding. Other factors, such as limited visibility, and sometimes, slippery conditions, can contribute to the risk.
It all comes down to the parking lot etiquette of drivers
Many drivers fail to acknowledge that the rules of the road also apply in parking lots. They tend to let their guard down under the presumption that they won't be involved in a crash. When two cars are involved, a crash may only involve a fender bender. It doesn't take much speed to injure a pedestrian, however.
Some parking lots have posted speed limits that drivers must obey. Even without speed limits, drivers should never travel faster than 15 mph, according to the National Motorists Association.
AAA researchers have found that the average pedestrian is at a 10 percent risk of sustaining a severe injury when struck by a car traveling at 16 mph. The risk increases to:
- 25% at 23 mph
- 50% at 31 mph
- 75% at 39 mph
Age is also a factor in pedestrian injuries or deaths. For example, an accident where a 70-year-old pedestrian is struck by a car at 25 mph is equally as serious as a 30-year-old pedestrian being struck at 35 mph.
Distracted driving is a common factor in pedestrian injuries in parking lots. The National Safety Council conducted a poll of more than 2,500 drivers in 2016. According to the poll results, drivers were more likely to make phone calls, program a GPS, text, use social media, send or receive emails, take pictures, or watch videos while driving through parking lots.
Rules drivers should follow in parking lots
In addition to maintaining a safe and prudent speed, the National Motorists Association urges drivers to do the following in parking lots:
- Drive in the correct direction. Drivers should only use the designated lanes when traveling up and down parking lot rows. If a row is two ways, drivers should stay on the right side in the direction they are traveling, just like they would on any roadway. If a row is one way, drivers can't enter from the wrong direction.
- Use turn signals. Pedestrians need to be able to anticipate the movements of drivers. The use of turn signals helps them do that. Turn signals should be used when making turns and even when backing out of parking spots, in some cases.
- Don't stop and wait for people to walk to their cars. It's better to park further away than to hold up traffic in a parking lot. Obstructing traffic can frustrate other drivers, and even cause them to pass in a risky manner — potentially putting pedestrians in danger of being struck.
The NSC also urges drivers to:
- Obey all stop signs and traffic signals in parking lots.
- Use caution when backing out of a parking space.
- Watch out for small children and parents with baby strollers.
Should you or a loved one sustain an injury while walking in a parking lot, it's critical that you speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Gervelis Law Firm investigates pedestrian collisions and helps crash victims recover all damages owed to them, including medical costs, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
Contact us online to find out how we can help you.