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The dangers of parking lots

Whether driving around a parking lot looking for a good spot, walking in or out of the store or backing up to leave, people in New Jersey need to be fully aware of the dangers around them. According to the National Safety Council, about 500 people die in parking lots and garages across the U.S. each year, and thousands more are injured. 

In general, parking lots have marked lanes, directional arrows, stop signs and other traffic indicators, but many people ignore these out of carelessness. Even worse are the people who are looking at their phones. In a nationwide survey, more than half of the participants self-reported being OK with cellphone-related activities such as making phone calls, texting, using social media and programming GPS systems while in a moving vehicle in a parking area. 

State Farm Insurance recommends that drivers remain alert to other vehicles that may be moving across empty rows or otherwise ignoring pavement markings, or driving faster than is safe. The best defense in these cases is to drive slowly and keep a foot hovering over the brake pedal.

This is also a good way to keep from striking a pedestrian. Children and people in wheelchairs may be difficult to see, and there is no guarantee that any person on foot will be paying attention. In fact, many people use their cellphones as they walk across parking lots, so a driver should never assume that a person will stay out of the center of the aisle where traffic generally moves.

When possible, it is a good idea to park farther back, where it may be easier to avoid the heavier traffic that is typically closer to the building.

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