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Loss Control Insights

6 Steps to Parking Lot Safety

Two people in a parking lot examining damage to a car mobile view

It's a fact of our times: Employees are in a hurry to keep up with their workload. This attitude can cause big problems on the road, and big problems in parking lots, too. Leaving a parking spot may appear to be a no-brainer activity, but EMC Engineer Kody Daniel is here to tell you differently.

"A study done a few years ago by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that about 14% of vehicle collisions that result in damage happen in parking lots," he says. While he admits that back-up cameras have most likely reduced the number of accidents in parking lots, he adds that technology alone can't keep you safe.

Kody has several suggestions for making your parking lot time accident-free.

  1. Use both technology and old-fashioned techniques to stay aware of your surroundings

    "Back-up cameras are a huge improvement over simply using mirrors and looking back at where you are heading," he says. However, he also notes that cameras are not 100% effective and it's not wise to rely solely on technology. "You still have to use the old-fashioned measures of checking your mirrors and turning your head to look behind and beside your vehicle," he warns. And of course, if your vehicle does not have a camera, you will need to rely on your mirrors and eyes to keep you safe.
  2. If the parking lot offers the ability to pull through when parking in straight-in spots, do it

    It's far easier to check for dangers in front of you as opposed to behind you.
  3. Park in the easiest to enter, easiest to leave spot

    This might be at the far end of the parking lot, but you'll generally have fewer vehicles parked in the area, fewer pedestrians walking behind you and fewer vehicles driving behind your vehicle. Bonus: You'll end up walking a bit farther to your destination, giving you a chance to stretch your legs and get much-needed exercise.
  4. When you get ready to leave the lot, survey the area looking for driveways, pedestrians, walkways or any other obstructions that may block your view

    And if you are in a location with low visibility and you have a passenger, ask the passenger to stand outside of the vehicle to warn you of any approaching dangers as you back out of the spot.
  5. Stay focused while driving in the parking lot

    While most drivers are well aware of the dangers of distracted driving, we may not consider parking lots to be a danger zone. It's easy to rationalize that you're not moving fast enough to be in danger (or to be a danger). However, being distracted in a parking lot can be every bit as dangerous as on-the-road distractions. "Many of us forget the training we've had about continually scanning mirrors and focusing on the task at hand, such as backing out of a parking spot or watching for other vehicles who may be backing out in our path," Kody says.
  6. Review EMC publications about backing out and parking safety

    These include Safety Brief: Preventing Backing Collisions and Tech Sheet: Backing Vehicles Safely.

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