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Parking lots pose pedestrian danger

The holiday shopping season increases the underestimated danger that parking lots hold for pedestrians. Each year, parking lots and structures are the scene of over 50,000 car accidents. These cause at least 500 fatalities and over 60,000 injuries in this country annually.

Texting and driving and other distracted driving were a major culprit, according to a National Safety Council public opinion poll. Its survey indicated that 68 percent of drivers across the country make phone calls while driving through parking lots.

Over half of those surveyed also indicated that they drove while programming GPS systems, texting, using social media, emailing and taking pictures or watching videos. This behavior only increases during the shopping season because motorists are distracted with completing their shopping and other lists and driving to different places.

Pedestrians are also endangered when drivers cut across lots, speed or fail to use directional signals. Ignoring stop signs and other traffic signs are also responsible for collisions.

Over one-third of pedestrian deaths came from vehicles backing up, according to government data. Distracted driving diverts attention from other vehicles and pedestrians while pulling in reverse. While newer vehicles are equipped with new technology, their effectiveness is decreased if not adequately used.

For example, backup cameras may provide a wide view, but that may be unclear if the lens is blocked. Monitoring systems use symbols, sounds or vibrations to alert drivers on other vehicles in blind spots. However, these systems do not always detect people or motorcycles.

Other non-vehicle dangers are found in parking lots that could cause slipping and tripping hazards. These include inadequate pavement markings, potholes, cracked pavement, poor signage, puddles, snow and ice. Large parking areas, particularly those at shopping malls or where there is inadequate surveillance equipment, are susceptible to crime.

A car accident victim can seek compensation from a negligent or reckless driver or from a property owner who did not take reasonable measures to protect pedestrians. An attorney can help obtain evidence and assure that a lawsuit may be timely filed.

Source: National Safety Council, "Parking Lots Are Riskier Than You Think," Accessed Nov. 28, 2017

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