Here's how to survive a mall holiday parking lot

ICBC stats show there are way more crashes near malls during Christmas shopping season

Every year there are two things out to ruin Christmas: the Grinch, and mall parking lots.

We can’t do much about the Grinch except keep on singing, but maybe we can all do our part to make parking lots a little safer so no one needs to eat turkey through a straw in a hospital bed this year.

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According to stats recently released by ICBC, the number of crashes recorded in mall parking lots goes way up each December as drivers race to find the perfect gift – and the perfect parking spot – in the busiest shopping season of the year.

ICBC’s stats survey found that in 2017 approximately 150,000 crashes occurred in parking lots resulting in 5,400 injuries, with the majority of those crashes happening in December, on Fridays and Saturdays, and between the hours of noon and 3 p.m.

Parking lot crashes typically happen at lower speeds so the risk of serious injury is reduced, but drivers need to practice safe driving habits and be particularly aware of their surroundings in parking lots. Particularly during the holiday season, mall parking lots present unique challenges with heavy pedestrian traffic and increased congestion, not to mention the added layer of drivers distracted by their shopping lists or frustrated by their attempts to find an empty spot in a packed lot.

Here are some tips from ICBC to help you navigate those busy parking lots this holiday season without adding a trip to the autobody shop to your Christmas to-do list:

The rules of the road still apply in parking lots

Drivers should know that the law still applies, even in mall parking lots. Avoid cutting diagonally through a lot – travel only in the appropriate lanes. Don’t use your phone while driving. Instead, program your navigation or holiday tunes before you start your car.

Try to have your car parked facing out

This position is safest for drivers because it helps you avoid the risk of reversing into a lane with potential blind spots when leaving.

Park farther away, if you can

Instead of circling endlessly to get a spot that’s closest to the mall entrance, pick a spot that’s farther away. You’ll avoid a high-traffic area where you’re more likely to crash with another vehicle or hit a pedestrian.

Slow down and be on alert

Drivers should drive slowly in parking lots to have enough time to react to an unexpected vehicle backing out of their parking spot or an unanticipated pedestrian, especially young children, who may be harder to see.

Pay attention to arrows and stop signs

Many parking lots are quite narrow, restricting certain lanes to a single direction. Pay attention to the signs and markings on the road to avoid getting into a crash.

Don’t block traffic

Deciding to follow a shopper, then waiting for them to load their car, buckle up and leave, jams up traffic behind you and likely takes you much longer than if you had just found a spot farther away. Sitting idle in a lane can leave you vulnerable to a collision, and you could be blocking other drivers who are trying to leave.

Play it cool

There’s no sense in having a showdown with another driver for a parking spot. Move along, and maybe that good karma will net you something really nice this season.

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