Parking lots are zones of traffic chaos—in slow motion.
We’re talking about street-level parking lots here, rather than multi-story parking structures and garages. Law enforcement does not give a high priority to policing traffic in parking lots. As a result, traffic control in parking lots is left to a combination of common sense, everyday courtesy, self-enforcement of traffic laws, and sometimes video monitoring by nearby stores and businesses. This doesn’t work out as perfectly as we might hope: near misses, minor collisions, pedestrian accidents, brief traffic jams, and other shenanigans occur every day in North Carolina parking lots. Only the low speed of most traffic in parking lots prevents them from becoming a demolition derby—or a bloodbath.
Parking Lot Lessons: This Is Why We Need Traffic Laws
The traffic messes that occur in parking lots tell us something about what happens when people lose focus on proper driving behavior. Four factors in particular make parking lots uniquely dangerous:
- Weak enforcement means traffic laws are routinely disregarded. Anyone who has seen a car parked in a fire lane, or a vehicle illegally using a handicapped zone, or an SUV run through a parking lot stop sign knows what’s going on: people ignore the traffic laws because they know they can get away with it. Police in New Hanover County don’t want to spend a lot of time patrolling parking lots looking for violations. Drivers know they usually can avoid a penalty for ignoring North Carolina traffic laws in parking lots, which provides an incentive to disregard the laws. Since those laws are (for the most part) founded on common sense, that means people are acting stupidly or recklessly—the very definition of negligence.
- The parking lot is a zone where vehicle traffic and pedestrians mingle. In a parking lot, it’s as if the whole world is one gigantic pedestrian crossing—without the convenience of a traffic signal to tell you who has the right of way. Children and adult pedestrians constantly dart behind or between moving vehicles.
- Bad drivers and inexperienced drivers abound. Everyone ends up visiting a parking lot now and then, and that includes the drivers with the least experience, those who normally do very little driving, and those with the weakest driving skills. All of those are among the drivers most likely to cause accidents.
- Distractions are everywhere. You already have heard about studies that say the majority of motor vehicle accidents are caused by distracted driving. In parking lots, there are innumerable potential distractions for both drivers and pedestrians—parents supervising their children, shoppers traveling between stores, pedestrians and drivers talking to friends or on the phone. Very few are focused on parking lot traffic conditions.
When a North Carolina Parking Lot Traffic Accident Happens
Because of the relatively slow traffic speeds, only a few parking lot accidents result in significant injuries or damage. As with many other accidents, pedestrians are most at risk of serious injuries. If a driver causes a North Carolina pedestrian accident in a parking lot by failing to exercise a reasonable degree of care, then the driver may be liable for any losses that follow from that accident.
If you have been hurt in a parking lot accident, the Wilmington personal injury attorneys at Speaks Law Firm would like to talk to you. You may be eligible to recover damages for your past and future medical expenses, out-of-pocket costs, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Call Speaks Law Firm today at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233 to set up a FREE consultation with our experienced North Carolina traffic accident lawyers. In exchange, we will send you a FREE copy of our informative guide, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book, as our way of introducing our law firm.