How to prevent parking lot accidents

Stephanie Taylor Christensen
Congested parking lots at the grocery store, the office and the mall are literally accidents waiting to happen. But there are ways to reduce your risk of getting in a parking lot fender-bender -- and to speed up the auto insurance claims process if you're in one.

Be aware
Many accidents in parking lots happen because of pure distraction. Turn off your cell phone, set your navigation system before moving the car, turn down the radio and ignore that text.
Look again
If you've already looked the make sure the coast is clear, take a moment to look again and make sure your rear view is free of pedestrians. Back-over deaths, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "disproportionately affect" children younger than age 5 and adults age 70 and above. Most of these back-over accidents occur in slow-speed settings, like parking lots and driveways.
Walk a few more steps
According to AAA, most drivers try to park as close as they can to the door, creating a more congested parking area and less room for more drivers to navigate. By parking farther from the crowd in a well-lit area, you might spare yourself the stress of an accident.
Make yourself known
Turn on your headlights. Particularly in dim parking garages, this can mean the difference between a fender-bender and a smooth shopping trip.
If you're in a parking lot accident
AAA advises drivers who have a parking lot accident to file a police report. If anyone appears to be injured, call 911.
Exchange information with the involved parties, including name, phone number, addresses and auto insurance provider. If possible, obtain the information of any witnesses to the collision.
Note facts surrounding the incident like time, date, location, weather conditions and parking lot conditions. Document the accident by taking pictures with your cell phone, and make sure to contact your auto insurance company immediately.
Lastly, avoid admitting fault or placing blame. According to Lawyers.com, when it comes to fault, there are often no set laws in the parking lots of malls and shops. In many cases, it may be that several people -- including the other driver, the owner of the lot or even you -- are responsible for damages and injuries. Leave it to the authorities to decide.

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