A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Keven Moore: The dangers of Black Friday parking lot hazards; avoid ‘going crazy’ for best deals, be safe

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when retailers offer doorbuster deals and deep discounts on items both in-store and online. For shoppers, it’s the perfect opportunity to snag holiday gifts at a fraction of the regular price. But for businesses, it’s a chance to boost sales and jumpstart the all-important holiday shopping season.

It’s also the day when people go crazy trying to get their hands on the best deals. Every year, there are reports of people being injured in stampedes, fights breaking out over discounted items, and even shootings. It’s gotten so bad that some police departments have started calling Black Friday “Black Eye Friday” because of all the assaults that occur.

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He is also an expert witness. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com

For instance, In 2008, a woman was trampled to death at a Walmart in Long Island, New York after being caught in a stampede of shoppers rushing into the store. In 2013, a shopper in Las Vegas was shot and killed after getting into an argument with another customer over a parking spot. And in 2014, a man in Alabama was shot and killed after getting into an argument with another customer over a television.

Since then, more and more people have opted to stay home and shop in their pajamas in the comfort of their homes. The preference for online shipping was amplified in 2020 during the pandemic and it has become the dominant mode of shopping ever since. With a little planning and research, you can score big this Black Friday without setting foot outside your home.

Many of you are die-hard Black Friday shoppers and still relish the thought of getting out there before the crack of dawn to camp out in the parking lot while visiting all those brick-and-mortar retail establishments, braving the crowds and the chaos of the local mall parking lot with your credit card in hand. But did you know that there are some real dangers lurking in those parking lots?

Parking lots are far riskier than you think. Tens of thousands of crashes occur in parking lots and garage structures annually, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. And, around the holidays, parking lots become even more dangerous.

According to an article in the National Safety Council, auto insurers report the number of claims spiked on Black Friday and run above normal throughout the holiday shopping season. The number of incidents is probably higher than insurance claims indicate, as many fender-benders go unreported.

However, statistics show that 20 percent of car accidents – that is one out of every five –happen in a parking lot. These seemingly minor crashes cause around 500 deaths and 60,000 injuries every single year. For many, it can be difficult to comprehend how people can die in parking lot accidents because cars are usually traveling at much slower speeds than on our roadways.

Parking lot accidents have become common mostly because drivers let their guard down, and many deaths from parking lot accidents occur because of a car backing into and over pedestrians. The National Safety Council estimates 9 percent of parking lot deaths occur while a car is reversing. Many of those pedestrians are small children, infants in strollers, or older adults. NBC News reports that around 2,000 children under the age of 14 were injured in parking lot accidents in 2007, and 99 children died.
There are two leading causes of parking lot crashes, tight spaces and poor sight lines. The fact is parking lots are designed to be filled with as many vehicles as they can possibly squeeze into the parking area. Unfortunately, this often obstructs the view of drivers who are navigating the other parts of the lot, as well as drivers who want to pull out of their parking space and merge into a parking lane. To make matters worse, there is little room to navigate when cars pull out in front of each other.

The issue is even worse for the pedestrians who are a constant presence in parking lots. As they go from the lot to the store or some other destination, they are far more difficult to see than other vehicles because of their smaller size. During the hectic holiday season, drivers and pedestrians also are likely to be distracted with extensive to-do lists while they hurry to get from one place to another.

Then there is the issue of distracted drivers, which has increased significantly with the invention of cellphones. Today drivers are making phone calls, sending texts, using social media, sending emails, taking selfies, or watching a video while navigating through parking lots. The fact is drivers think that parking lots are safer places to drive because of the lower speeds that they are traveling and let their guard down, all while many are distracted.

With the recent time change, it’s getting darker sooner and this is another hazard to watch out for when you venture out to complete your Christmas shopping. Drivers simply sometimes cannot see you, especially if you are walking in a poorly lit area and you aren’t wearing any reflective clothing. Then wet weather conditions can make the parking lot surfaces slippery, making it difficult to walk or drive, and they can also increase the risk of accidents.

This can be especially dangerous at night when it’s harder to see people and obstacles. If you’re shopping after dark, be sure to park in a well-lit area.

To Be Safe Here Are Some Helpful Hints:

• Always stay alert while driving or walking through a parking lot.
• Before entering your vehicle conduct a quick, 360-degree walk-around before backing, keeping an eye out for low-lying objects
• Park and walk in well-lit areas of the parking lot

• Put your phone down.
• Stay in parking lot lanes and avoid cutting across lots, and in between vehicles.
• Drive slowly and use directional signals to let pedestrians and other drivers know of your intentions.
• Anticipate the actions of other drivers and drive like they don’t see you
• Always obey stop signs and no-parking signs
• Watch for small children and parents with baby strollers
• When backing out, be mindful of vehicles and pedestrians
• Tap into the technology and use your backup cameras
• Don’t rely completely on technology; look over your shoulder and use your mirrors as you back up

So, there you have it! Just a few of the dangers that you need to be aware of when shopping on Black Friday. Be sure to stay safe out there and Happy Shopping!

Be Safe My Friends

Related Posts

Leave a Comment