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February 13, 2014
9 tips for winter parking lot safety

Parking lots can be dangerous places, especially this winter with so much ice and snow in so many places across the country. A nurse at an Illinois hospital was recently killed by a snowplow in the hospital parking lot. How can you avoid tragedies like this and other parking lot accidents? Keep reading to find out.

One problem with parking lots is that drivers feel they can let their guard down because they’re no longer on the road. But according to a study by the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association, 20 percent of insurance claims were related to parking lot accidents. The problem is twofold—limited visibility and distraction. A full lot makes it hard for drivers to see hazards. As well, drivers entering or leaving parking spaces have severely constrained visibility.

Distractions are a major issue. When people get into their cars, they do all kinds of things, such as fiddling with the radio, checking their phones, or starting up the GPS. Unfortunately, many of these activities take place as they are backing up or driving in the parking lot. As a result, they may not see pedestrians, who may also be distracted—especially by their phones—as they walk. All of these hazards are made considerably worse in inclement weather.

Avoid causing a parking lot accident or becoming a victim

Share these parking lot safety tips with employees:

  1. Do everything you need to do (adjusting seat, mirrors, etc.) before you exit the parking space.
  2. When walking in a parking lot, stay to the sides of the aisle and watch for cars.
  3. Do not talk on the phone or use headphones in a parking lot.
  4. Obey parking lot speed limits and lane designations; don’t cut diagonally across the lot.
  5. When walking in an icy lot (or any lot for that matter) make eye contact with an approaching driver. Stop if you don’t think the driver has seen you.
  6. Wear boots or shoes with nonslip soles and good ankle support. If necessary, carry your work shoes with you and change inside.
  7. Snow muffles engine sounds; don’t rely solely on hearing to know if a vehicle is coming. Electric and hybrid vehicles are especially quiet.
  8. Look out for snowplows and snowblowers. If possible, these should operate when the lot is empty or as empty as possible.
  9. Snowdrifts can prevent drivers from seeing traffic signs and crosswalks. Don’t take shortcuts over snowdrifts or plowed snow.

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