Parking Lot Accidents & Safety
Resources for Colorado Drivers on Avoiding Accidents and Staying Safe in Parking Lots
Parking lots are busy with hurried and distracted pedestrians. One individual may assume both of these roles within a matter of minutes while locating a parking place, exiting a car, and walking toward a destination across a busy parking lot.
Types of Parking Lot Accidents
Although drivers typically travel slowly through parking lots, they also move unpredictably in all directions and are often distracted while weaving back and forth, putting other motorists and pedestrians at risk. Not surprisingly, about one in five motor vehicle accidents happen in parking lots, according to a Washington Post report.
- Single-car accidents. Parking lot accidents such as hitting a light pole or misjudging the curb often happen when motorists are distracted or more concerned with locating a parking spot than they are of watching where they are going.
- Vehicles colliding with other vehicles. Approximately 20 percent of all accidents occur in parking lots. Moreover, 80 percent of all bumper damage occurs during parking, including hitting parked cars. Collisions can also occur when both drivers are maneuvering for the same coveted parking spot, leaving damage in their wake.
- Vehicle-pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians walking through a parking lot toward a retail store or other destination must be aware of cars traveling toward them from all directions simultaneously. Parking lots are filled with distracted drivers as well as distracted pedestrians, thereby increasing the chances of an accident. You can learn more about vehicle-pedestrian accidents here.
Right-of-Way in Parking Lots
Drivers tend to get confused as to who has the right of way in parking lots. A basic rule to follow is to recognize what type of lane you are in. Parking lots have two basic types of lanes:
- Feeder lanes
A thoroughfare is a lane that exits to a street. These lanes tend to be wider and are the main arteries of the parking lot. Feeder lanes are smaller lanes that end and begin at the thoroughfares.
Those who are driving in a thoroughfare have the right of way over those coming out of feeder lanes, meaning that you must stop and allow traffic in the thoroughfare to proceed before moving out of a feeder lane. Similarly, anyone who is moving out of a parking space must yield to those who are driving through the lane. Just like a car coming out of a driveway onto a street, vehicles in a parking space do not have right of way over those already proceeding.
Stop and yield signs in a parking lot should be observed in the same way as on any street. Failure to obey posted signs can leave you at fault for a resulting accident.
Who’s at Fault?
Because most parking lots are private property, state traffic and motor vehicle laws generally don’t apply, and there are no set laws for determining fault in most parking lot accidents. Consequently you, the other driver, the owner of the lot, or a combination of people may be responsible for vehicle damages and personal injuries.
Similar to an accident on the roadway, insurance companies will likely determine the fault in a parking lot accident, based on the facts surrounding the incident. They will take statements and consider the damage to the vehicle.
Avoiding Parking Lot Accidents
The best way to avoid being involved in a car accident in a parking lot — or anywhere else — is to drive cautiously. Where there are cars and pedestrians going in multiple directions, keeping alert and following parking lot signs and markings keeps traffic flowing and pedestrians safe. Because it can be very difficult to see when backing out of a parking spot next to a large vehicle, back out very slowly and watch for cars coming down the lane or backing out of other spots, as well as pedestrians.
When proceeding through lanes, watch for people who might be backing out with blind spots, and allow them to back out slowly until they make eye contact with you. While someone else might be the one at fault for an accident, should one occur, it’s up to all drivers to help avoid parking lot accidents.