The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that 20 percent of all collisions resulting in damage claims occur in parking lots. Review these tips and discover how you can better navigate the hazards of the mall parking lot.
• See and be seen. Use your headlights in parking garages—even in the daytime. You'll be more visible to both other vehicles and pedestrians.
• Learn to play the outfield. Outlying areas have more spaces, lighter traffic and a lower risk of collision. In some cases, however, those spaces may not be as secure, so be aware of the risks.
• Don't put yourself in a tight spot. Avoid parking between a pair of tall SUVs or minivans where it might be hard for you to back out of the space. If you can't see well enough to back out safely, get help from one of your passengers.
• Refrain from reverse. If possible, avoid backing out of a space by either backing into it or "pulling through" two spaces that are open nose-to-nose. In some municipalities, however, backing into spaces amid moving traffic is illegal and, by impeding traffic flow, can sometimes do more harm than good.
• Look out for little ones. Children can be hard to see in busy parking lots and often make quick, unpredictable movements. When walking to and from the car, hold their hands to keep them safe from traffic.
• Stay "on track" and alert on foot. Pedestrians should use walkways and crosswalks. If you must walk in the traffic lanes, be alert for subtle cues, such as car exhaust or reverse lights, that signal a car is about to pull out. When behind the wheel, always be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially hard-to-see children.
• Buckle up! Even a low-speed collision can result in injuries. Make sure everyone is strapped in a seat belt or child seat while the car is in motion, even if it's just a short trip to another part of the parking lot.
• Head for the side door. At the mall, everyone wants to park near the stores, especially near the main entrance. But most malls have secondary entrances on the sides, and those entrances usually have less traffic and more convenient spaces.
• Protect your purchases. Place packages in the trunk so they won't be visible to would-be thieves. In only a few seconds, a thief can smash a window and steal your shopping loot.