The Importance of Parking Lot Safety
A National Safety Council poll in 2016 found drivers had lax attitudes about distracted driving in parking lots. They reported behaviors such as texting and checking social media when driving through parking lots, even though they know those behaviors are dangerous on the open road.
Parking lots, however, can be full of hazards – errant shopping carts, blind spots, and distracted pedestrians, to name a few. Drivers who aren’t paying attention could cause an accident or, even worse, seriously injure a pedestrian.
Businesses with parking lots or parking garages should be concerned about parking safety, for both visitors and employees. If employees are injured in a company parking lot, their accident is technically work-related.
Basic Safety Precautions
Improving the safety of parking lots may require an investment, but the amount of money spent on safety upgrades is likely far less than what companies could have to pay if a serious or fatal accident occurs on their property.
An article in Safety and Health Magazine included these tips on parking lot design from the president of a Houston-based parking advisory firm:
- Make one-way parking lanes: As a visual cue for drivers, business owners can repaint parking lines on a diagonal to show that a parking lane is one-way and/or install a “One-Way” sign. One-way lanes reduce congestion, and diagonal spaces allow drivers backing up to more easily see approaching cars.
- Install rumble strips near pedestrian areas: Drivers, especially when distracted, often ignore striped pedestrian crossings in parking lots. Speed bumps may be effective in getting drivers to slow down, but only if they are noticed – otherwise, distracted drivers may hit a speed bump and lose control of their vehicle. Rumble strips placed near pedestrian crossings are more effective at getting drivers to pay attention and slow down.
- Improve lighting: All areas of a parking lot should be well lighted. In parking garages, transitional lighting just inside the entrance helps drivers’ eyes adjust when entering a garage on a sunny day.
The Issue of Liability
Businesses may be liable for injuries or damage in their parking areas if they had actual knowledge of a hazard but took no steps to alleviate it. For example, if the owner of parking lot knows that several people have been robbed at gunpoint on or near the property, the owner should make an effort to improve safety, such as hiring a security officer for the property or installing more lights.
Failing to clear parking surfaces of snow and ice in a reasonable amount of time could result in business-owner liability, should a visitor or employee slip and fall on the property. Cracked, uneven concrete, chipped stairs, and other trip-and-fall hazards should be repaired as soon as possible.
Employers can help educate their employees about parking lot safety, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers a tip sheet on how to do that. Instituting a driver safety program can help employers reduce the risk of accidents, both in their parking lots and on the roads in general.
If you have any questions about this topic or believe that negligent parking lot maintenance caused your injury, the attorneys at Wapner Newman can help. For almost 40 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. We encourage you to contact us today by calling (800) 529-6600 or filling out a free case evaluation form.