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Safe driving habits should include parking lots
parking lot
Large parking lots, such as those found at shopping malls during the holiday season, are considered most vulnerable to crime, according to the Urban Institute Justice Policy Center. - photo by Photo Contributed

It turns out the most dangerous place to be on Black Friday might not be in a toy store fighting with the other shoppers for that one must have item this season. Instead, it's the parking lot.
The increase in vehicle and pedestrian traffic in parking lots during the holiday season, combined with earlier sunsets and a whole host of other distractions make parking lots one of the more dangerous places during the holiday season, according to a recent study from the California Department of Insurance and other affiliates.
"A moment of distraction or poor judgment can lead to tragedy," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "The best gift you can give yourself this holiday season is to pay attention and be aware of hazards in busy parking lots."
Fourteen percent of all collisions occur in parking lots and often lead to expensive insurance claims for vehicle damage or worse still injuries to pedestrians. The study found that 25 percent of crashes were from people backing out of parking spaces, even though it only accounts for 1 percent of driving time.
The study found that distractions lead to most crashes. Some of the distractions include passengers, phones, the radio or simply the great search for the best parking spot.

"Our auto claims data shows that two of the days with the highest number of auto claims occur during this time of year-the day before Thanksgiving and the Friday before Christmas," said Kathy Sieck, senior vice president of public affairs for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

There are several safety tips to remember when driving in parking lots:
• Check your surroundings before getting in your car.
• Look in every direction when backing out of or pulling into a parking space.
• Keep your foot off the gas as you back up.
• Slow down and pay attention to posted speed limits.
• Watch for pedestrians moving in between vehicles.