Shirley Dumas’s auto was damaged in a parking lot accident

Don't let a parking lot accident spoil your holiday shopping

Contributed By:The 411 News

One in 5 car accidents occur in parking lots – distracted drivers cause of many

Many things can spoil a shopping trip at this time of year, like ... a fender bender in the store's parking lot. That's what happened to Shirley Dumas in Hammond as she headed for a parking spot at one of her favorite stores – the Dollar Tree near 165th Street.

Dumas was broadsided by a driver leaving a lane in the parking lot. Although the vehicle collided with Dumas on the driver's side, she wasn't injured. Dumas said the driver was more upset than she was. "She was crying and apologizing that she was sorry ... that she wasn't looking."

Hammond Police arrived to make a traffic incident report. "Since it was only minor damage, I asked the officer not to give her a ticket," Dumas said. "I'm a compassionate person and I felt sorry for her."

The officer's report showed the other driver failed to yield the right-of-way. Both drivers were insured. The damage to Dumas' 2011 Buick was appraised at $1,200.

But the other driver's insurer would only pay half. "I was told by her insurance company that the accident was partly my fault. That I should have stopped sooner," Dumas said. Her protests to the insurer that the police report listed their driver at fault were in vain.

According to a 2018 report from the National Safety Council, as many as two-thirds of drivers may be pulling into shopping centers distracted. One in five accidents happen in parking lots.

The leading culprit for distraction is the cellphone. Be it making calls or texting while driving in a parking lot, researchers say the slower speeds give people a false sense of security.

“It’s just as dangerous to be distracted in a parking lot going 5 mph as it is going 50 mph,” National Safety Council president Deborah Hersman said.

“People have their heads down; they’re on their phones whether they’re behind the wheel or whether they are pedestrians. There is just a lot of inattention out there,” Hersman added.

Stop signs, yield signs, and other signage and markings help to establish how traffic is intended to flow in a parking lot and establish the right-of-way. The Dollar Tree store had none and many store parking lots don't have these guides.

"I'll have to come up with the other half because my policy has a $500 deductible," Dumas said. "So I urge drivers to pay special attention in parking lots during these holidays since they have so much more traffic."

Story Posted:12/15/2019

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