| Driving
Woman in black peacoat opening car door with one hand, holding shopping bags in the other

Mistletoe, mulled cider, making Grandma’s secret snickerdoodle recipe … and maneuvering through crowded parking lots? If you’re one of the 151 million people shopping over Black Friday weekend, you may want to brush up on your parking skills. Even the happiest of elves can end up on Santa’s naughty list after a long day navigating chaotic stores and even more chaotic parking lots. Follow this easy guide to make sure your holiday cheer lasts longer than Grandma’s famous snickerdoodles!

Stay Alert. When you pay as much attention to parking as getting that long-desired doorbuster, you’ll be sure to stay on “the nice list.” As a pedestrian and a driver, stay alert in crowded parking lots. Even when you have the right of way, other drivers may get distracted while dreaming of that doorbuster and may not respect your right of way. Remember: The only car you have control over is your own.

Watch for Children. Kids aren’t always the most observant, especially after spending the day being pulled through noisy crowds and eating a bit too much sugar. An excited child, full of gingerbread and Christmas cheer, could easily dart between cars and into your blind spot in an instant. Because of their size, children run a greater risk of remaining unseen in parking lots, especially at night.

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (via My Parking Sign) estimates that 22% of children between ages 5 and 9 killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians, and most of these accidents occurred because drivers failed to see kids while backing up their cars. Drive slow, double check your blindspots and the rear of your vehicle when you’re backing up, and keep an eye out for happy kiddos on sugar highs.

Back Up Carefully. As we hinted at in the previous tip, leaving your parking spot could be the most dangerous part of your shopping trip, especially if you’re parked in a busy area. With cars and pedestrians constantly flowing in either direction and a limited field of view, there’s lots that could go wrong. In fact, 25% of car accidents in parking lots are caused by a car backing up. Even a slow collision could cause unfortunate damage. To be safe, triple check the road behind you and then back up slowly.

Don’t Drive Distracted. While you may not be able to stop visions of sugarplums from dancing in your head, you can choose to avoid distracted driving. Stow your phone as soon as you start your car and program your GPS before driving. Not only will dealing with technology off the road help you stay more focused on driving, but it’ll also give you time to mentally prepare for the upcoming mayhem of the mall! A whopping 26% of traffic accidents are caused by cell phone use, says the National Safety Council. Be a gift giving expert, not a statistic, this holiday season.

Choose the Right Spot. Your mom may tell you there’s no such thing as the wrong gift, but there could be such a thing as the “wrong parking spot.” Parking farther from an entrance can decrease your risk of an accident because fewer cars and pedestrians will be in the area. (Just be careful at night!) Finding a pull-through spot means not having to back out into heavy traffic, and parking at a memorable location (perhaps next to the giant statue of Santa?) means not wandering a busy parking lot loaded down with shopping bags and looking for your car.

Obey the Law. This Black Friday, like the one before it and the one before that, parking lots will be busier than the North Pole on Christmas Eve. The last thing you need is to cause an accident or get a ticket for a traffic violation. Do your best to follow the rules of the road, drive safe, and save your money for presents … even if they’re just for you. (We won’t tell!)

Now when you drive to the mall this Black Friday, you’ll be prepared to deal with the most common parking lot problems. However, even if you’re as prepared as Kris Kringle on Christmas Eve, there are still factors you can’t control. If your car skids on black ice and dings another car, or perhaps another driver isn’t paying as much attention as you are, your car could end up in trouble—through no fault of your own! A staggering one in five motor vehicle accidents takes place in a parking lot and 14% of all auto damage claims involve collisions in parking lots, reports My Parking Sign. With that stat in mind, additional auto insurance coverage may be the best holiday gift you can give yourself this season!

The holidays should be full of fun, not stress. Spend less time worrying about your car and more time tracking down the best sales. With the right tricks and a little luck, parking could be your calmest moment of the day! Call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732) to talk to one of our friendly agents and find out how you can gain additional peace of mind at an affordable price today.

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