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A surprising number of people are killed in garages, parking lots

Many New Yorkers are extra cautious at this time of year because they know that increased holiday traffic, drunk drivers and slippery roads can make for hazardous travel. However, you shouldn’t let your guard down once you pull into a garage or parking lot.

A study from the National Safety Council found that more than 50,000 crashes occur every year in parking lots and garages. These aren’t just fender-benders. At least 60,000 people are injured in these crashes, and at least 500 people, on average, die every year in these collisions.

One of the major culprits is distracted driving. This can include talking on the phone and texting. Drivers often feel safe engaging in activities in parking lots and garages like using their cellphones that they wouldn’t attempt while on the road. In one survey, drivers even admitted to video chatting, watching videos and accessing social media in these areas.

Just being distracted in general can result in serious crashes. Parents with an SUV full of kids and shoppers mentally scratching off their holiday to-do lists can collide, resulting in severe or even fatal injuries. Simply looking for a parking space can be a challenge that distracts drivers from other cars and pedestrians around them.

Low speed doesn’t necessarily make things safer. As the National Safety Council president said, “It’s just as dangerous to be distracted in a parking lot going 5 mph as it is going 50 mph.”

As long as they’re behind the wheel, no matter where they are, drivers have a responsibility to look out for other vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. If you’re injured by another driver, wherever the accident occurs, you should determine what your legal options are for seeking the compensation you need as you heal.

Source: CBS News, “Why hundreds are killed in crashes in parking lots and garages every year,” Nov. 21, 2016

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