What Crash Risks Do Drivers Face in Parking Garages?
Land comes at a cost, especially in densely populated or highly trafficked areas, such as downtown Jackson, MS. Price is one of the main factors that motivate property owners to construct parking garages or decks alongside their structures, including office buildings, shopping centers, sports facilities, universities, or apartment complexes. Parking decks have a small footprint yet afford hundreds if not thousands of motorists the ability to easily access an establishment.
Parking garages allow property owners to offer customers, employees, residents, or whoever else may use their premises a place to leave their vehicle while going about their activities. While most people see parking garages as a convenience, they can also be a big liability for crashes.
How Common Are Crashes in Parking Garages?
The National Safety Council (NSC) suggests that “tens of thousands of crashes” happen in parking garages or lots annually. The NSC argues that these result in thousands of individuals getting hurt and even a couple of hundred individuals losing their lives. The NSC stops short of giving a specific number of incidents occurring in either one of these settings. However, some estimates suggest that this equates to about 50,000 accidents per year.
Data reported by CBS News in 2021 cited how 20% of all accidents occur in parking settings. Like most of the statistics we reviewed, most group parking lot and garage data together.
Crash Types That Are Most Common in Parking Garages
A few different kinds of accidents occur in parking garages more than others. Some of those include:
- Reversing Accidents: These crashes may involve another motorist or pedestrian being struck as a driver backs up to pull out of a parking space.
- Head-on Collisions: The walls within a parking garage may offer some visibility between decks, although countless ones don’t. While cars traveling in opposite directions can collide head-on into one another within a single level within a parking deck, these collisions are most apt to occur when a motorist is circling the garage, whether getting on or off ramps.
- Pedestrian Accidents: These incidents, as referenced above, can happen when a motorist is driving their vehicle in reverse. The possibility of a motorist striking a pedestrian can really happen anytime, though. For example, a motorist traveling down a ramp may quickly round the corner, striking any awaiting pedestrian in the process.
- Ejection Accidents: This is most apt to happen to a bicyclist or motorcyclist if they’re struck on a ramp on the decline. The impact may force them off their respective bikes, causing their bodies to land at the foot of the ramp, or perhaps even worse, force them over the edge of the parking deck’s walls.
- Rear-end Crashes: Parking decks have varying layouts. Some may feature concrete walls as a barrier to keep vehicles away from the structure’s edge. Others may have less fortified barriers, such as exposed steel (rebar) or tension cabling. A vehicle struck with just the right amount of impact could be pushed over the edge of the structure, falling to the ground several stories below. Even if that doesn’t occur, a speeding driver on a ramp may not have the ability to stop fast enough to avoid a crash.
- T-Bone Accidents: As mentioned previously, the parking deck can be arranged differently. There are some situations where cars may be parallel parked around the edges of the parking structure. A motorist may T-bone them if they’ve built up significant momentum and aren’t expecting a vehicle to be positioned there.
- Sideswipe Accidents: Lanes can be narrow within parking garages, especially if structures are older or feature one-way lanes. It’s easy for a motorist to sideswipe another as they attempt to pass by another vehicle.
- Fender Benders: These crashes might occur when a motorist attempts to pull out of a tight parking space.
Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and automobile operators all face risk when navigating parking garages.
Primary Causes of Parking-Related Crashes
A poll carried out by the NSC sought to make sense of why parking facility-related accidents commonly occur. They determined that most of them were attributable to distractions (specifically from their phones) such as:
- Social media use
- Photo and video taking and watching
- Global positioning system use
The researchers also determined that personal grooming contributed to parking lot-involved crashes.
As someone who’s been in a parking lot, you likely know how disorienting finding your way around them can be. It’s also not uncommon to encounter motorists whizzing through parking garages at a high rate of speed.
Also, owners of these garages tend to pack in as many parking spaces as they can, often in tight spaces between solid concrete walls and other cars. Parking spots may sometimes seem a bit narrow. It can also be relatively dark in parking garages, making it challenging to see what’s around you, especially if a motorist isn’t using their lights.
Each of the aforementioned factors increases the likelihood of a crash occurring in a parking garage.
How To Minimize Parking Garage Injury Incidents
Some tips for avoiding crashes in parking areas that easily apply to garages include:
- Turn on your headlights as you enter the garage (and only cut them off if it’s bright outside as you leave)
- Maintain your lane as you travel through the lot or garage
- Adhere to the posted speed limit set for the parking garage or lot
- Take turns slowly, especially if there are blind spots at the curve
- Pay close attention to posted signs or signals within the parking structure (they may warn of a sharp or blind curve, a one-way lane, or reduced speed)
- Look around your vehicle before backing out (to see if there are any potential hazards)
- Keep a watchful eye for things in your blind spots (like children, low-lying wheelchairs, pets, etc.)
It’s also best to try to anticipate others’ actions. Scanning what’s happening in front, behind, and around your vehicle can help you do this. If you notice someone getting something out of their trunk as you’re walking to your nearby car, for example, then you may want to keep an eye out for them when pulling out as they may have begun traveling through the parking garage by then.
If you were injured in a car crash in a parking garage, you may have legal options. To learn those options and how we can potentially help, get in touch with us today.