The most dangerous places for drivers during the holiday season may not be bustling highways but crowded parking lots.
AAA is warning consumers about the increased hazards of parking lot traffic this season with driving hazard demonstrations and holiday driving tips.
Increased traffic and pedestrians, early sunset, a host of distractions and scam artists can increase the risk of collisions at parking lots, they say.
“A moment of distraction or poor judgment can lead to tragedy,” Jones said in a statement. “The best gift you can give yourself this holiday season is to pay attention and be aware of hazards in busy parking lots.”
AAA said 14 percent of all collisions occur in parking lots and often lead to expensive insurance claims for vehicle damage or worse — injuries if you strike a pedestrian. Distractions lead to most crashes — passengers, phones, the radio or simply the great search for the best parking spot — all contribute to the high crash rate in parking lots.
“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.
Federal transportation statistics from 2011 show 39 percent of fatal non-traffic collisions occurred while backing up. Drivers in parking lots may develop tunnel vision, as they search for a spot and miss some of the hazards around them, including pedestrians and moving vehicles.
Parking lot activity increases dramatically during the busy holiday season, making drivers more vulnerable to crashes and pedestrians at greater risk for injury, AAA said.