EDITORIAL: Parking lots are never the safest places | Squamish Chief

EDITORIAL: Parking lots are never the safest places

The tragic death of little Ava Grace Gnanaprakasam on Feb. 28 provides an unwelcome opportunity to stop and think about safety in parking lots in Squamish.

(This is in no way a comment on the actual situation that lead to the death, which is still under investigation, but instead an overview of parking lot hazards.)

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While they seem innocuous, parking lots account for about one-third of all crash claims with ICBC.

About 96,000 crashes happened in parking lots in 2018. Of those, about 4,300 resulted in injuries or fatalities. Just shy of 500 pedestrians were injured in parking lot crashes in 2018 in B.C.

Vehicle damage costs totalled $1.33 billion in 2018 alone.

While they seem separate from the streets — or highway — that surround them, the rules of the road still apply, even on private property where the public is invited to park.

“If there is no posted speed limit, it is best that you practice driving 30 or 20 kilometres an hour or even under — recognizing that parking lots are high traffic locations where there is a large hub of activity that involves different users,” Lindsay Wilkins of ICBC said.

There is no way to prevent all bad things from happening in life, but keeping these ICBC tips in mind may improve chances.

It is common sense, but because the driver and pedestrian defenses often go down when in parking lots it seems necessary to say drivers shouldn’t start moving while buckling up or adjusting navigation on their GPS. Those few seconds can be all it takes to get in an accident while distracted.

Drivers should also reverse into their parking spot so that when they leave, they can see what is ahead of you. (Cheaters' way: if there are two stalls empty, drive through to face forward.)

Park further away from the entrance to avoid high traffic areas, which are more chaotic. (This helps avoid those annoying dings to your vehicle too.)

Wilkins says if you do hit a parked car, leave a note and then make a claim. Best to take a photo too, if possible.

Wilkins also adds that it is best not to drop bags off to your car and then head back to continue shopping.

“It is a good sign for thieves to know that your vehicle is going to be unattended and is going to be untended for a while,” she said.

There were 4,000 reported instances of theft from a vehicle in a parking lot last year in B.C.

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