(Coppell, TX) - In the coming weeks parking lots at malls and shopping centers will be packed with holiday shoppers. According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 135.8 people will shop over the Thanksgiving weekend, or nearly 59% of Americans. AAA Texas advises bargain hunters to avoid common parking lot pitfalls and to keep their wits about them at all times.
“AAA Texas wants this to be a season of joy and celebration, not one of losses and injuries,” said AAA Texas/New Mexico Representative Doug Shupe. “As we shop for the perfect gifts for our families and friends, let’s make sure we don’t forget about our personal safety.”
AAA Texas offers the following advice for navigating parking lots and protecting vehicles and pedestrians this holiday shopping season:
Head for the side door and play the outfield. Many shoppers want to park near their favorite stores or near the mall entrance. Most malls have secondary entrances on the sides and those entrances usually have less traffic and additional convenient spaces. Also, outlying areas normally have more open spaces, lighter traffic and a lower risk of collision.
See and be seen. Use your headlights when scouring parking garages for spaces, even in the daytime. The light will let other cars see you coming around turns and can make fitting into that tight parking space a little easier. Research shows that keeping vehicle headlights on reduces crash risks, even during daylight hours.
Beware of tall vehicles. Avoid parking between a pair of tall SUVs or minivans where it might be hard for you to back out of the space. If you can’t see well enough to back out safely, get help from one of your passengers.
Look out for little ones. It can be difficult to see small children in busy parking lots. Be aware of your surroundings and look for children, who may make quick and unpredictable movements. When walking to and from stores, hold the hands of your children to keep them safe from traffic.
Stay on track and alert. Pedestrians should use walkways and crosswalks, if available. If walking in the traffic lanes is unavoidable, be alert for subtle cues – including exhaust or reverse lights – that signal a vehicle is about to pull out.
Make sure you have your keys before locking the car door. Every year during weekend holiday shopping, AAA technicians help members who become stranded after locking keys in their vehicles.
Deter thieves from window shopping. Place all shopping bags and valuables in the trunk, including the GPS unit and its mount, so they won’t be visible to would-be thieves. Remove any evidence, such as GPS suction cup marks from the vehicle’s windshield. It takes a thief just seconds to smash a window and steal your belongings and new gifts.
Stay on guard in parking lots. Choose a well-lighted area to park at night. When returning to your vehicle, have keys ready in hand and check the car’s interior before entering, using a keychain flashlight or even a smartphone app. Don’t shop alone. If you must, always be aware of your surroundings; pay attention to any unusual or suspicious activity or persons and report them.
Slow down, buckle up. Even a low-speed collision can result in injuries. Make sure everyone is strapped in a seat belt or child safety seat while the vehicle is in motion, even if it is just a short trip to another part of the parking lot.
Get your tree home safely. Wrap a line around the tree and secure on the left and right rear corners as well as the left and right front corners of the vehicle. Secure tree to roof-mounted carrying rack. Place the cut portion of the trunk facing the front of the vehicle. Be sure limbs don’t impede vision to the front or rear of your car. Drive carefully with heavy load by braking, steering and accelerating gently.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.