A Commonly Overlooked Place for Distracted Driving: Parking Lots 

You’re driving down a speedy road, with busy traffic and signs left and right. You vigilantly keep watch for where to curve, turn, look, and signal, keeping all potential distractions aside. Finally, with a sigh of relief and your mind shifting to another place, you turn out of the road and tiredly move into a parking lot.  

When discussing distracted driving and situations where it can pose a threat, parking lots are too often overlooked in the conversation. Just like any other place of driving, parking lots involve multiple hazards if attentiveness and distraction-free driving are not present.  

There are multiple vehicles, pedestrians, and obstacles in parking lots and distracted driving can be a serious harm to the driver and their surroundings. However, the idea that a driver is secure enough to be distracted after pulling up to a parking lot has been internalized by many. These are some of the alarming statistics about distracted driving in parking lots according to a recent National Safety Council public opinion poll: 

  • 66% of drivers make phone calls while driving in parking lots. 
  • 63% of drivers use program GPS systems while driving in parking lots. 
  • 56% of drivers write text messages while driving in parking lots. 
  • 52% of drivers use social media while driving in parking lots. 
  • 50% of drivers send and receive emails while driving in parking lots. 
  • 49% of drivers take photos and watch videos while driving in parking lots.  

 

Teenage drivers are also susceptible to engaging in distracted driving in parking lots. According to the same poll, teenagers are 6% more likely to groom themselves behind the wheel in parking lots than adults.  

These dangerous driving behaviors prove harmful and even deadly to drivers and pedestrians. The Liggett Law Group found that “every year, over 60,000 individuals are injured in auto pedestrian accidents in parking lots and parking garages” (Liggett, 2021). Injuries and fatalities are especially high during the holiday shopping season, and a spike in auto insurance claims at this time of year shows this.   

However, there are effective techniques for safe driving in parking lots that are very simple to put in use. Always staying alert and aware of your surroundings, pedestrians in particular, is by far the most significant method. Paying attention to signs and low-lying children in parking lots is also crucial to attentive driving. Another tip is to avoid all types of distractions behind the wheel as much as possible, whether that be calling, texting, or personal grooming. Finally, avoiding reliance on car technology to park is an important tool.  

If you practice distraction-free driving techniques, no matter what area you are driving in, you will make yourself and your environment a much safer place to be.  

 This article was written by Harini Senthilkumar, Journalism Committee Intern

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: 

  1. ‘Tis the Season for Parking Lot Injuries. National Safety Council. (n.d.). https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/distracted-driving/parking-lot-safety 
  2. Parking Lots Are No Place For Texting & Driving: Parking Lot Accidents. Liggett Law Group, P.C. (2021, February 2). https://liggettlawgroup.com/blog/parking-lots-no-place-texting-driving/