Like other Pennsylvania parents, you probably take your child to the store with you, at least occasionally. You may even make it a parent/child field trip that involves some lunch and perhaps a special treat from the store.
As you walk through the parking lot toward the store, you have a close call with a vehicle. After your heart stops pounding through your chest, you probably take a moment to let relief wash over you because your child, and you, escaped a potential tragedy.
Parking lots are more dangerous than you think
Drivers ordinarily considered safe while on the roads might relax too much once they are driving through a parking lot. They may believe that, since their speed has drastically reduced, they are safe, don't pose a danger to anyone else and could stop in time should something happen. As such, they may engage in some of the following behaviors that they would not consider while on the road:
- They may watch videos or take photos.
- They may use social media.
- They may send or read texts.
- They may take the opportunity to program a destination into a GPS.
- They may think it's safe to make a phone call.
Under these conditions, an otherwise safe driver could cause serious harm or even death. In fact, approximately 500 deaths and 60,000 injuries occur in around 50,000 accidents that happen in parking lots and parking garages each year. You may not have realized your local supermarket's parking lot presented such a danger.
Now you know
Now that you know of the danger, you can take the following steps to increase your child's safety in parking lots:
- Don't let him or her run.
- Don't let him or her play around parked vehicles.
- Tell your child to watch out for cars that probably don't see him or her.
- Tell your child to either hold your hand or hold onto the cart if your hands aren't free.
- Let your child know that consequences will happen if he or she fails to obey the rules.
The more seriously you take parking lot dangers, the more likely it is that your child will also take your rules seriously. You may need to reiterate the rules before you get out of your car to go into the store, however. Young children don't always remember the rules the first time. Perhaps most importantly, you can provide a good role model for your child by setting a good example and following the rules.
Sadly, even when your child follows the rules, tragedy can happen. If your child suffers serious injuries or worse in a parking lot accident, you may exercise your right to hold the party or parties deemed at fault accountable.