Shopping Mall Parking Lots are Filling Up; Don't Become a Crash or Theft Victim Says Auto Club

(LOS ANGELES, Dec. 21, 2006) — Motorists mall-bound for holiday shopping need to stay alert to avoid fender benders, injuries or thefts that could make the holidays less than happy, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

With Hanukkah, and just one weekend remaining before Christmas, the malls are sure to be extra busy.

“The closer we get to the holidays, the tougher it is for some people to be patient. This is especially true in mall parking lots and streets near the malls where traffic can become congested, slow and frustrating,” said Carol Thorp, the Auto Club’s managing director of public relations. “Losing patience, driving aggressively, or not staying alert behind the wheel can result in crashes in parking lots. Pedestrians also need to watch out for vehicles so a shopping expedition doesn’t turn into a tragedy. And once parked, shoppers need to take steps to avoid becoming theft victims,” she added.

As the holiday countdown continues, the Auto Club offers these tips to help drivers better navigate parking lots and make safer decisions to protect themselves and their vehicles:

While Driving

  • Buckle up! Even a low-speed collision can result in injuries. Make sure that everyone is strapped in a seat belt, child safety seat or booster seat while the car is in motion, even if it’s a short trip to another part of the parking lot.
  • See and be seen. Use your headlights during the daytime so that other drivers will see you. Research shows that even in daytime, keeping your headlights on reduces crash risk.
  • Exercise caution. Be aware of your surroundings and pay extra attention to the cars around you, especially when you’re backing out of your parking space. When behind the wheel, always be on the lookout for pedestrians and hard-to-see children.
  • Try 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.
  • Be courteous. Don’t be a Grinch and steal a parking space that another motorist-shopper was patiently waiting for. Allow extra time to find a parking space.
  • Don’t get in a blind spot. Avoid parking between a pair of tall SUVs or minivans where visibility will be difficult when backing out of the space. If you are parked between them, be watchful and back out slowly. Get additional help from one of your passengers, if possible.
  • Keep windows clear. Make sure your defroster or defogger is working properly. Make sure your windows are clear before backing out of your parking spot. To help, be sure that packages, winter coats and other items don’t interfere with your line of sight.
  • Move it. Remove shopping carts that might accidentally get pushed into your car. These losses are considered insurance losses and your deductible would have to be paid – by you.
  • Get the vital statistics. In the event of a crash, be sure to obtain the names, addresses, telephone numbers, insurance carriers and policy numbers of the other motorists.
  • Don’t argue. If someone approaches you in the parking lot with a weapon and demands your wallet, purse or car, comply. Loss of these items isn’t worth your health, safety or your life.

While Walking in the Parking Lot

  • 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 available. If you must walk in the traffic lanes, be alert for 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 and hard-to-see children.
  • Be prepared. Anticipate that the malls will become busier with last minute holiday shoppers. Remember it may be easier to park further away than closer to shops. If it’s nighttime, park in a well-lit area. Shop in the evenings or when stores open early in the morning.
  • Conceal your purchases. Don’t set yourself up for a vehicle break-in by leaving your purse, wallet, packages or other valuables in view while your car is parked or while you’re driving. Put packages and shopping bags in the trunk.

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