CINCINNATI, OH (November 23, 2017) – Whenever you decide to venture out to start your holiday shopping, AAA is reminding everyone to use caution and avoid distractions.
According the Ohio State Highway Patrol crash statistics report, the five-day Thanksgiving period recorded more crashes than any of the other major holidays in 2016. AAA reminds shoppers to pay attention, as they enter or leave stores, as distracted walking is a serious safety issue, as well.
Not only will many motorists be rushing to get a coveted parking space to hit ‘door buster’ sales and other holiday bargains on Black Friday, some shoppers, unfortunately, will suffer a disabling injury after being struck by a car in the parking lot.
“We know that traffic will be much more congested near and around malls and shopping centers after Thanksgiving,” says Jenifer Moore, AAA spokeswoman. “It is imperative for motorists to concentrate on driving and avoid distractions while shoppers should focus on not letting their guard down when entering and walking through a parking lot.”
According to the National Safety Council, auto insurers report the number of claims spike on Black Friday and run above normal throughout the holiday shopping season. The number of incidents is probably higher than insurance claims indicate, as many fender-benders go unreported.
“Unfortunately, tempers can run high and patience short as drivers circle the parking lot in search of an empty parking space,” continued Moore. “Careless and inattentive driving in crowded parking lots could result in additional holiday expenses, including fender-benders, personal injuries and a general Grinch-like attitude. Don’t let distractions and your dash for deals dampen your holiday spirits.”
AAA offers the following tips to avoid becoming a traffic statistic:
- See and be seen. Use your headlights when scouring parking garages for spaces, even in the daytime. Avoid parking between a pair of tall SUVs or minivans where it might be hard for you to back out of the space. If you can’t see well enough to back out safely, get help from one of your passengers.
- Slow down, buckle up and obey the laws. Drive the speed limit, stop at stop signs, don’t park in spaces designated for disabled persons, and don’t text and/or talk on the phone. Ensure all passengers are buckled up even if it is a short trip to another part of the parking lot as even a low-speed collision can result in injuries.
- Head for the side door. Many shoppers prefer to park near their favorite stores or near the mall entrance. Most malls have secondary entrances on the sides and those entrances usually have less traffic and additional convenient spaces.
- Refrain from reverse. If possible, avoid backing out of a space by either backing into it or pulling through two spaces that are open nose-to-nose.
- Look out for children and distracted pedestrians. It can be difficult to see small children in busy parking lots, who may make quick, unpredictable movements. Hold the hands of your children to keep them safe from traffic. Also, watch out for those not watching out for themselves because they are focused on their smart phones.
- Stay on track and alert. Pedestrians should use walkways and crosswalks, if available. If walking in the traffic lanes is unavoidable, be alert for subtle cues – including exhaust or reverse lights – that signal a vehicle is about to pull out.
- Wait until Cyber Monday. Many retailers will have special online promotions on Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving.
In addition, Black Friday shoppers should also remain vigilant about protecting their purchases and identity. According the National Retail Federation (NRF), consumers report they will spend an average $967.13 this year in holiday shopping. That’s up 3.4 percent from the $935.58 consumers said they would spend when surveyed at the same time last year. With holiday sales expected to increase more than $655.8 billion last year from last year, there is a high potential for theft and other fraudulent activity.
Follow these AAA tips to keep yourself and your packages safe:
- Carry a small bag with your wallet along with necessary essentials, instead of a large purse. If at all possible, avoid carrying cash and instead carry only credit cards.
- Shop in a group. Avoid shopping alone making yourself a target for thieves. Share contact information with everyone you will be shopping with in case of an emergency.
- Make sure cell phones are powered on, fully charged, and accessible. Keep your phone in your pocket where you can feel it vibrate, even if you can’t hear it ringing in a loud environment. Don’t put the phone in your purse where you can’t hear or feel it.
- Park in a well-lighted area. If your Black Friday shopping extends into the evening hours, be sure you park in a well-lighted area and have your keys out as you approach your vehicle.
- Write down where you parked the car. This will help you avoid trying to remember if you parked in the lane by the hydrant or the hydrangeas! Snapping a quick picture depicting parking lot markers, usually found on poles, can also be helpful. Also, make sure you have plenty of gas in the tank, as it may take some time to find parking or to get out of the parking lot once you’re done.
- Store purchases in the trunk. A bag full of video games or digital cameras makes an enticing target in the back seat. Clear out the trunk and make as much space as possible before you head out shopping.
- Be mindful of how much you are carrying. Do not buy more than you can carry. It is OK to make more than one trip to the car to store packages in the trunk.
- Stay Alert: If you believe you are in danger or see suspicious behavior, alert the authorities immediately and request assistance.
AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Ohio. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.