In the midst of the almost frantic Holiday shopping, we’d like to remind you to stay safe in the parking lots. Staying aware of your surroundings can avoid two big risks in the parking lot. The first risk is having an accident whether in your car or as a pedestrian. The second risk is from thieves accosting you or breaking into your car.
Parking lots are riskier than you think. Tens of thousands of crashes occur in parking lots and garage structures annually, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. And, around the holidays, parking lots become even more dangerous.
Auto insurers report the number of claims spike on Black Friday and run above normal throughout the holiday shopping season. The number of incidents is probably higher than insurance claims indicate, as many fender-benders go unreported.
So Many Distractions
In a National Safety Council public opinion poll, 66% of drivers nationwide said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots. Respondents also said they would:
- Program GPS systems (63%)
- Text (56%)
- Use social media (52%)
- Send or receive emails (50%)
- Take photos or watch videos (49%)
NSC found teens (59%) were more likely to engage in personal grooming than adults (53%) while driving in parking lots, but less likely to be on the phone (60% vs. 66%).
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in 10 property related thefts occur in parking lots. Follow these rules of the mall parking lot, and you can avoid becoming part of that 10 percent.
Chose your parking spot wisely
At the risk of stating the obvious, the closer to the mall entrance, the better. Not only is this convenient, but it is typically the most populated area of the parking lot. It is also the best lit. If you can’t find a spot that’s close to the mall and well lit, keep searching, even if it takes longer.
Lock it up
If you are on the home stretch of a shopping marathon, it may seem like a small hassle, but take that extra moment to completely lock your car. Most new cars have remote key fobs, but for the older ones, be patient and lock it all up.
Out of sight, out of (the criminal’s) mind
The best way to keep a mouse out of the house is to hide the cheese. The same can be said for leaving valuables visible in your car. Bags or expensive items of any kind should be put in the back and out of sight of would-be-criminals. A dark blanket or large towel can help conceal precious cargo.
Criminals might also camp out waiting for someone to drop off a large item in the car and go back into the mall. If you must make another trip back inside, move to another parking space on the other side of the mall.
Have a plan
Getting lost in the parking lot is a surefire way to make you easy prey. If you have Google Maps on your smart phone, you can “drop a pin” simply by opening the app and holding your finger down on your location when you park. Save that location and you can use GPS to get back to your car without getting lost.
But don't spend too much time looking at the map. People are easily distracted when staring at a phone, so look occasionally, and be aware of your surroundings the rest of the time.
The holidays might be a time of goodwill, but criminals play on that sentiment. Be wary of strangers who approach you in the parking lot. Have your keys in one hand and your cell in the other—in case you need to call 911. And remember, the parking lot can also be a crowded place. If you scream, Good Samaritans are often not far away.
Dean and Draper
We encourage you to stay safe while you enjoy the Holidays. When you have questions about insurance, we invite you to call us. We’re really good at getting you solid answers. Call us.
Dean& Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients. ContactUs.
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