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Shoppers Beware—Parking Lots Can Be Deadly

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Pedestrians use extra caution when crossing the street or travelling alongside moving traffic. A person might not feel as much at risk in parking lots, where pedestrian traffic is not unusual, but they should!

As I pointed out in a blog last September, drivers must be aware of their surroundings, especially in areas where pedestrian traffic is high. Low speeds should not mean drivers reduce their radar for potentially dangerous and fatal accidents. In North Carolina, pedestrians have the right-of-way no matter where they are in commercial parking lots.

Bonnie G. McBryde was in front of Harris Teeter grocery store on Pisgah Church Road in Greensboro, North Carolina when she was struck by a vehicle on Tuesday afternoon, February 16, 2010. Kathleen Ann Ryan was attempting to make a left turn in the parking lot. She failed to see Ms. McBryde, who fell on the hard pavement and hit her head after being struck by Ms. Ryan’s automobile. Though the accident occurred at a low speed, the impact sent Ms. McBryde to Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro via Guilford County EMS.

In both of these incidents, the pedestrians were located directly in front of the stores. Drivers know pedestrians are heading to and from the door at all times. Despite street markings, cautionary warning signs, and common sense, these pedestrians were struck where you might think the risk is lowest.

Even in parking lots, pedestrians should be on the lookout for moving vehicles. Drivers might not be paying as close attention to people walking to their cars as they are to a potential parking space. There are obstacles everywhere in busy parking lots that obstruct a driver’s view. Drivers lose their patience or have their minds on their errands, not on what’s right in front of them.