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Navigating retail parking lots during the busy holiday season

By Aviva Canada on

Navigating a parking lot is never easy, but the holidays bring increased risk

Retail parking lots can be frustrating and dangerous places during any time of year, but especially during the holiday season with increased crowds and people often in a hurry. As referenced by Carfax, The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety estimates that approximately 20% of vehicle accidents that cause damage take place in parking lots.

The National Safety Council, in the U.S., conducted a national distracted driving public opinion poll, which showed that 66% of drivers make phone calls, 63% program GPS devices, 56% send text messages, and an outrageous 49% of people take photos or watch videos while driving in parking lots.

The dangers do not stop at distracted driving and collisions between vehicles. The U.S. based Kids and Cars notes that 50 children are backed over every week. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that drivers backing out of parking spaces and driveways kill 267 people and injure 15,000 people per year.

See below for tips on how to safely navigate parking lots, especially during the busy holiday rush.

Tips for Drivers in Parking Lots

We consulted Carfax, GeoTab, National Safety Council and Young Drivers of Canada for these parking lot safety tips:

  • Reverse in or pull through parking: Never pull into a parking space front first. Either reverse your car into a parking space or find a space in which you can ‘pull through’ from an adjoining space. Make sure the front of your vehicle faces out of the space, so you have the most visibility possible when leaving your space.
  • Obey the rules of the road:
    • Follow posted speed limits and if there is no limit posted keep your speed below 50 km/h
    • Always obey stop signs
    • Stay on the right side of the road
    • Use indicators
    • Never follow too closely
    • Use driving lanes; do not cut through parking spaces
  • Avoid distraction: set your GPS, make phone calls and send text messages before you leave your parking space.
  • Don’t lap the lot: driving in parking lots is high risk. Yet, people often spend more time circling the lot driving through the heaviest traffic to find spaces close to an entry point. Parking a little further away can be safer and can save time.
  • Yield the right of way to pedestrians: yield to and allow pedestrians to cross safely.

Approximately 20% of vehicle accidents that cause damage take place in parking lots


The content in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional or expert advice from Aviva