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Retailers love this time of year when consumers venture out in droves to do their holiday shopping. This time period can make or break their entire year.

For the rest of us, increased shopping means more congestion on our roadways and in the store parking lots. This increased congestion can lead to frustration, aggravation, and fender benders. In addition, the weather can wreak havoc on already-crowded parking lots, resulting in slips and falls and difficulty pushing a shopping cart or stroller.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind as you venture out this holiday season to find that perfect gift.

  1. Park further away. If your family is like mine, they’re always telling me to find the closest parking spot, and if I don’t, I hear about it. However, during this congested time of year, it may be wise to park further away from the store. If you do this:
    • Backing out will be easier because there will be less car and pedestrian traffic.
    • You may be able to avoid unwanted door dings.
    • There’s more space for you and your family to exit and enter the vehicle.
    • You can burn off a few extra calories which isn’t a bad thing this time of year.

  2. Light it up. Many cars today come with daytime running lights. If your car doesn’t, turn on your headlights while in a parking lot or parking garage during the daylight hours. Turning your lights on makes it easier to be seen by other cars and pedestrians.

  3. SUVs and minivans, oh my! If possible, be on the lookout for these vehicles. While you may find a close parking spot in between them, trying to back out after your shopping spree may be difficult.

  4. Don’t rely solely on backup cameras. While backup cameras are a nice addition to cars, they only allow you to see what’s directly behind you. Before backing out, you should still turn your head to survey the area around you. If it’s clear, you can slowly back out, keeping an eye on the display. If you’re travelling with friends or family, I would encourage you to ask them to keep an eye out. If the parking spot in front of you opens up, pull through. Unfortunately, I know people who have backed into cars even with an audible alert and camera.

  5. Pay attention to your surroundings. Before leaving your car or store, scan the area. Be on the lookout for anything that looks strange. In addition, keep an eye on the pavement. Watch for elevation changes or potholes that could cause you to slip and fall. If something doesn’t feel right, consider asking store staff or security for assistance. Lastly, take out the earbuds and avoid texting or trying to make a phone call until you’re safely in the store or your car. Distracted shoppers are easy targets.

  6. Make eye contact. If you’re using a pedestrian crossing at your favorite mall, make eye contact with the driver to make sure they see you and are going to allow you to cross. Even though pedestrians have the right of way, never assume drivers see you. 

  7. Inspect your car. Before getting in your car, take a peak in the back seat to make sure a stranger isn’t waiting for you.

  8. Wear appropriate clothing. Consider wearing lighter or reflective clothing and shoes with good traction.

  9. Shop with a friend or family member. If your plan is to shop until you drop, consider taking somebody with you. Carrying many bags or packages can make you an easy target. In addition, consider leaving small children at home or taking someone with you to help them navigate safely through the parking lot. Trying to push a stroller, carrying packages, watching other kids and looking for car keys can be difficult and dangerous.

If you’re involved in a car accident in a parking lot and police aren’t contacted, be sure to gather as much information as possible, including the name, phone number, address, and insurance information of the other driver(s), and the color, type and license plate number of the vehicle(s). If there are witnesses, get their contact information, as well. And take photos, if possible, to avoid fraudulent claims later on.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts; please share them.

West Bend Cares
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Posted 6:59 PM

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