As Mississippi drivers roll into another holiday shopping weekend, State Farm® urges caution as parking lots overflow with impatient drivers. During the holidays, parking lots at malls and supermarkets are packed, increasing the possibility of a fender bender. About 20 percent of all vehicle accidents happen in parking lots, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Though these low-speed collisions are rarely serious, they can be costly, time consuming, and aggravating.
“If you hit a parked car it’s important to be honest and to take the appropriate steps to report the incident,” says State Farm spokesman Roszell Gadson.
State Farm reminds drivers that if you hit, scrape or otherwise damage a parked car—or if you’re the victim of such an accident—There are steps you can take to make life easier for yourself and the victim:
IF YOU HIT A PARKED CAR
Own up: Don’t drive away—if another customer or a surveillance camera spots you, you could be punished for a hit-and-run.
Track down the other car’s owner: Head into the store and speak to someone at the customer service desk. Describe the car to the employee, and have him or her announce it over the store’s loudspeaker.
Leave a note: If you’re unable to find the other driver, jot down basic information—your name, phone number and a brief explanation of the accident—and place it in a secure spot on the car. Write down the license plate number and take a photo of the damage if you have a camera with you.
Call the police: Depending on how extensive the damage is, you may want to involve the police. They’ll document the accident and they can help you find the other car’s owner.
IF YOU’RE THE VICTIM
Contact your insurance agent: Let him or her know what happened as soon as possible. Your agent will help you determine the next steps.
Take notes and record evidence: If the other driver is still around, jot down his or her name, address, phone number, driver’s license number and insurance company. Take pictures of the damage with your phone or a camera, if you have one on hand.
AVOIDING ACCIDENTS IN THE FIRST PLACE
Buy Time to React: Parking lots are filled with obstacles and hazards, but often the biggest danger is other drivers. The best way to deal with these drivers is simple: Slow down. This buys you time to react and avoid a collision.
Expect Pedestrians: Parking lots are full of people coming from and going to their cars. Though pedestrians may not be looking out for you, it’s still your responsibility to look out for them.
Distance Yourself: Door dings and scratches are aggravating and hard to avoid. One way to reduce the risk of door damage is to park away from other vehicles.
Remember that accidents will happen but it’s never too early to study up on safety, whether you’re planning a trip or holiday shopping. Driving slowly and being aware of your surroundings while in a parking lot are two of the biggest steps to keeping your holiday shopping experience safe and enjoyable.
Tips for Preventing Car Theft:
- Always lock the doors.
- Never leave your vehicle while the engine is running. It doesn’t save you much time, and it’s an open invitation for thieves to steal your car.
- Take your keys with you. Even a spare key hidden out of sight is a bad idea. The bad guys know all the hiding places.
- Roll up your windows all the way. It’s amazing what an experienced car thief can do with a sliver of an opening.
- Secure your garage. If you park in a garage at home, make sure it’s locked down. And never leave your keys in the car.
- Hide valuables. Keep your personal belongings out of sight, preferably in the trunk.