Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
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Elkhorn, WI

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Parking lot risks rise during the holidays

According to insurers, the number of personal injury insurance claims involving ts peak on the Black Friday shopping day and continue at an above-average rate through the December holiday season. Distracted driving is a major culprit of accidents and injuries. 66% of motorists across the country admitted that they make phone calls while driving in parking lots, according to a National Safety Council public opinion poll.

At least half of those respondents admitted to engaging in other distractions, such as texting and driving, using social media, sending or receiving emails, engaging in personal grooming and taking photographs or watching videos. 63% of respondents program their GPS systems while they drive. Over the holidays, drivers are even more distracted by to-do lists and trying to meet appointments.

An NSC analysis of government data also revealed the threat that backup incidents present to pedestrians. Backup collisions cause 9% of pedestrian fatalities in parking areas. Even though many new vehicles have backup cameras to prevent backup accidents, views may be unclear if there are any obstructions on the camera lens. There are monitoring systems intended to alert drivers of vehicles that are in their blind spots, but motorcycles, pedestrians and smaller objects may go undetected by these systems.

Pedestrians also face other perils that could impose premises liability on the parking lot or structure’s owner. Poor pavement striping, inadequate signage, debris, insufficient lighting, puddles and unremoved snow and ice may cause injuries. Larger parking lots, particularly those found in shopping malls, are also more vulnerable to crime. Limiting pedestrian traffic and installing video surveillance equipment to check these areas can help prevent criminal activity.

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