More shoppers, early sunsets, distractions and crooks can make parking lots risky places to be during the holiday season. The Automobile Club of Southern California is warning consumers about the increased hazards in parking lots and reminding shoppers to prevent locking themselves out of vehicles or becoming a theft victim.
“Stay focused, pay attention and be aware of all the hazards in crowded parking lots this holiday season,” said Jeffrey Spring, the Auto Club’s Corporate Communications Manager. “A moment of distraction or poor judgment by shoppers in a rush can lead to unfortunate situations during what should be a festive time of year.”
Twenty percent of all collisions occur in parking lots and often lead to expensive insurance claims for vehicle damage or tragic injuries if you strike a pedestrian. Distractions lead to most crashes and include passengers, phones, the radio, or simply having tunnel vision looking for a parking spot. Auto Club insurance claims data shows that the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the time of year with the highest number of auto insurance claims, meaning the highest number of crashes occur during that period.
To avoid a parking lot collision, the Auto Club recommends drivers:
- Be aware of the hazards around you in a parking lot, including pedestrians and moving vehicles
- Don’t Drive Intexticated. While searching for a parking spot, don’t make or take phone calls, read or send texts and emails, use social media or take photos or videos
- Drive slowly and obey all traffic and directional signs
- Avoid shortcuts such as cutting across parking lanes and rows of parking spots
- Watch for pedestrians and other vehicles when slowly backing up
- Be extra alert for small children, pets, and parents pushing baby strollers in parking lots
- Turn on your headlights, even in the daylight and especially when driving through dark parking garages
To avoid being locked out of vehicles, drivers should:
- Never leave car keys or key fobs inside the vehicle’s passenger compartment, even when helping a passenger or child into the vehicle
- Stay focused. Don’t become distracted while getting in or out of your vehicle in the parking lot
- Exit your vehicle with your car keys or key fob in hand and use the key fob security system to lock doors
- Place car keys or key fob in your pocket or purse when stowing or unloading packages in the trunk
- Always double-check you have keys in your hand, pocket or purse before exiting the vehicle or before closing the trunk
To prevent auto crimes of opportunity this season, vehicle owners should:
- Always lock your vehicle with the windows closed. Even if you park your vehicle in a garage, this simple measure is added security.
- Never leave belongings or purchases out in the open of your car since they could tempt thieves. Even empty shopping bags, sunglasses, coins or a change of clothes might look interesting to a thief.
- Never leave your keys in your vehicle or leave your vehicle running any time you are not in it
- Park in populated, well-lit areas
- Never hide a spare ignition key on the vehicle. Thieves look for keys in popular hiding places like inside a car bumper or wheel well.
- Store your key fobs in a metal container when at home. The metal provides a barrier that interrupts radio signals to/from the smart fob, preventing potential hackers from opening your vehicle.