As you navigate the mall parking lots during this holiday season, you may think that squeezing into an open space will be your biggest challenge. Think again. That's because parking lots are not only rife with car accidents, but they are where most mall-related crime occurs. Drivers and walkers navigating the lot are vulnerable to being hit by cars and falling prey to theft. Also, unattended vehicles loaded with packages are open invitations for break-ins.
Here's some advice on how to keep safe and accident-free this holiday season.
Finding the perfect parking spot during the bustling holiday season can be tough, but at least hunt down a spot in a populated area instead of settling on one in a dark, remote location, especially if you are alone. Parking in a well-lit area deters thieves. If you—or the kids—have to take valuables such as tablets, games, and mobile phones with you, take time to stow them away out of sight before you lock the car. Remember, nothing says "valuable electronics inside" more than those telltale charging cables. So hide those away, too.
For more on parking-lot safety, read "5 Ways to Keep Your Car Secure While Holiday Shopping."
It's important to be on alert when you're driving in the parking lot, and walking to and from your car. Most people behind the wheel are so focused on finding a parking spot that they aren't watching what else is going on. Children can be very difficult to see in a busy parking lot, especially at night. An excited child can dart out from between cars and in front of you in an instant.
When you are walking to and from your car, keep your head up and pay attention. Too often people walk with their face buried in their mobile phone, while checking e-mail, posting status updates, texting, or making calls. Watch for cars backing up. Remember that visibility is quite limited to the corners when backing up; make sure you are visible to drivers and be predictable. That includes looking to the front, side, and rear when walking to and from a store. Being aware of your surroundings lessens your chances of becoming a victim or getting struck by a car.
Chances are you're going to be parking between an SUV and minivan at least once this season. Being flanked by large vehicles makes it especially difficult to back out of parking spots, because you can't see the cars or pedestrians in the travel lanes. If you are driving a sedan, it's even worse, because you aren't sitting high enough to see through the windows of larger vehicles. So make sure you rely on all of your rearview mirrors and, if you have one, your backup camera. Use them together to avoid backing out in front of a vehicle, backing over a child or adult pedestrian, or even bumping into a shopping cart that broke free from the herd. And if you're shopping for a car, consider one equipped with cross-traffic alert.
Everyone tends to be in a rush during the holidays, but taking your time and being conscientious in your actions can help keep the season happy for yourself and others.