AAA Colorado offers parking lot tips for safe holiday shopping

DENVER, December 10, 2015 – This holiday season, as parking lots at shopping malls fill with vehicles, AAA Colorado warns drivers to avoid common parking lot risks. According to a new survey, more than three quarters (76 percent) of U.S. drivers most frequently park their vehicle by pulling forward into a parking spot. Driving experts warn that this practice leaves pedestrians more vulnerable when a driver later reverses from the spot and into the traffic lane.

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested rear cross traffic alert systems, designed to alert drivers to traffic passing behind a reversing vehicle, and found significant system limitations exist when parked between larger vehicles, such as SUVs or minivans. In this common parking lot scenario, the tested systems failed to detect pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles and other vehicles at alarming rates:

  • A passing motorcycle was not detected by the systems in 48 percent of tests.
  • The systems failed to detect a bicycle passing behind the vehicle 40 percent of the time.
  • The systems failed to detect a passing vehicle 30 percent of the time.
  • While not all systems are designed to detect pedestrians, the technology failed to detect pedestrians 60 percent of the time.

“Automakers are increasingly adding technology to vehicles that is designed to address rear visibility concerns,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “However, AAA’s testing of these systems reveals significant shortcomings when used in real-world conditions and Americans should rely more on driving skills than technology.”

Tips for safely navigating parking lots include:

Check your surroundings before getting into your car, looking for anyone that appears to be ready to pull out.

Reverse slowly when leaving a parking space, looking over both shoulders and through the back window. Check for brake lights or reverse lights and pedestrians. Use traffic alert technology as an aid to, not a substitute for, safe driving.

As you pull into a spot, check to make sure that drivers or passengers of cars in adjacent spots are not opening their doors to exit their vehicles.

Watch for distracted pedestrians, especially during the holiday season when people are carrying shopping bags, wrangling children and texting while walking.

About AAA Colorado
AAA Colorado has more than 630,000 members and is an advocate for safety and security for all travelers. As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive related services, as well as member exclusive savings.