When you consider your child’s safety at school, you may not immediately think of the parking lot. However, this is where danger lurks. Every year, an average of 50,000 crashes happen in parking lots and garages, causing more than 60,000 injuries and 500 deaths, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
In a high school parking lot, there are dozens—if not hundreds—of inexperienced teen drivers who may be in a hurry and distracted. The combination of all these factors increases the risk of teen car crashes and pedestrian accidents.
Common Teen Driving Dangers
Teens are prone to making several mistakes while driving. Many adolescent drivers get distracted by their music, talking with friends, grooming, reaching for objects, or being on their cell phones.
The National Safety Council (NSC) found distraction is a common factor in parking lot accidents. In an NSC public opinion poll, the organization found 59 percent of teens were likely to engage in grooming in parking lots and 60 percent were likely to be on their phone.
Beyond distracted driving, teens are likely to rush, speed, and make reckless decisions while behind the wheel. They may follow too closely to other cars, play games of chicken with friends in other vehicles, and overall drive their vehicle in ways that increase the risk of wrecks.
On top of teen’s risky driving, many fail to wear their seatbelts, increasing the likelihood of serious injuries and fatalities in crashes.
Consider Teen’s Poor Driving Habits in the Parking Lot After School
Your teen driver and other students face risks before and after school in the parking lot. However, it is when the last bell rings the greatest risks arise. At the end of the school day, a majority of student drivers hurry to the parking lot and try to leave at the same time. Students are vying to pull out of their parking spots and get in the long line to leave as soon as they can.
These teen drivers also may be competing for space with parent pickups and buses. Not only is the student parking lot busy, but the roads surrounding the school likely have heavy traffic.
Vehicle crashes are not the only concern. Vehicle-pedestrian collisions are a serious issue. While the first wave of teen drivers is backing out of parking spots, there are other teen drivers and passengers walking to their cars. If teen drivers are not careful about checking behind them and in their blind spots, they could easily back up into another student.
Safety Tips for the School Parking Lot
As a parent of a teen driver, you can’t be there every minute. You can’t control everything your child does behind the wheel. What you can do is talk with your teen about the risks of car crashes in the parking lot before and after school and ways to avoid a collision.
Talk with your teen about:
- Choosing a parking spot further away from the school. Your child may benefit from getting to school a little earlier so they can grab a spot that is easy to leave at the end of the day. If the spot is further from the school, it may have less foot traffic around it.
- Backing into the parking spot. Another benefit of arriving early to school is that it is easier to back into the parking spots. Then, at the end of the day, your teen can pull forward to leave and avoid backing up into another vehicle or student.
- Always checking behind them. Reversing into a spot every day may not be possible. If your teen needs to back out, make sure they know to always check behind them and be mindful of their vehicle’s blind spots.
- Being patient at the end of the day. Encourage your teen to wait until traffic has died down before leaving the parking lot.
- Minimizing the distractions. Tell your teen to put away their phone and leave the music off while they are driving in the parking lot.
- Following the flow of traffic. Your teen may have a route in mind, but traffic may have other thoughts. Your teen should follow the established traffic patterns of the parking lot.
- Never speeding. Parking lots call for slow speeds and patience.
- Wearing their seatbelt. Remind your teen that they and their passengers should all have their seatbelts on before putting the car in drive or reverse—even if they are driving a short distance.
Call us if Your Teen Was in a Parking Lot Accident
If your teen was injured in a school parking lot accident, whether they were a pedestrian or in a vehicle, contact the Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson toll free at (866) 458-5008 to discuss your options.