Parking lots can be one of the most accident-prone locations that drivers will encounter. Even though speeds are low, there are many opportunities for accidents to occur, particularly when backing out of a parking space. Even if the way out is clear when you get into your car, the situation can instantly change as you start to back up; a pedestrian can walk behind your car, another car can suddenly arrive, or a low-lying cement curb that you forgot about or didn’t notice when you first parked can end up under your car with a crunch as you angle out of the parking space. Remember the “3 C’s”: Conditions Constantly Change.
Although most parking-lot accidents result in only minor damage, some end up with very serious consequences. According to Liberty Mutual Insurance’s quarterly newsletter of July 2014, an average of 210 deaths and 15,000 injuries occur every year due to backing-up accidents.
The best preventative measure you can take to avoid being involved in such an accident is to never back up unless you have to. Although driving forward into a parking space and then backing out is often unavoidable, try to find parking spaces where there is no opposing vehicle, meaning you can drive forward into and later out of the space. If you do have to back up, only back up as far as you absolutely need to, and above all, be alert and check for all possible hazards before you begin backing up and the whole time during your maneuver. Use your mirrors, turn your radio off, and take advantage of back-up cameras if you have a new car with this feature. Finally, if you have any uncertainty whatsoever that the way is clear, remember the GOAL principle: Get Out And Look.
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