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CA Department of Insurance

Parking lot hazards increase dramatically during busy holiday season

News: 2015 Press Release

For Release: November 24, 2015
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Email Inquiries: cdipress@insurance.ca.gov
Parking lot hazards increase dramatically during busy holiday season
Backing up results in 25 percent of crashes but accounts for only one percent of driving time

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Increased traffic and pedestrians, early sunset, a host of distractions and scam artists make parking lots one of the more dangerous places during the holiday season.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Kathy Sieck of the Automobile Club of Southern California and the Citadel Outlets are warning consumers about the increased hazards of parking lot traffic this season with driving hazard demonstrations and holiday driving tips.

"A moment of distraction or poor judgment can lead to tragedy," said Commissioner Jones. "The best gift you can give yourself this holiday season is to pay attention and be aware of hazards in busy parking lots."

Fourteen percent of all collisions occur in parking lots and often lead to expensive insurance claims for vehicle damage or worse-injuries if you strike a pedestrian. Distractions lead to most crashes-passengers, phones, the radio or simply the great search for the best parking spot-all contribute to the high crash rate in parking lots.

"The Auto Club wants this to be a season of joy and celebration, not a season that is spoiled by a parking lot accident," said Kathy Sieck, senior vice president of public affairs for the Automobile Club of Southern California. "Our auto claims data shows that two of the days with the highest number of auto claims occur during this time of year-the day before Thanksgiving and the Friday before Christmas."

2011 federal transportation statistics show 39 percent of fatal non-traffic collisions occurred while backing up. Drivers in parking lots may develop tunnel vision, as they search for a spot and miss some of the hazards around them, including pedestrians and moving vehicles.

Parking lot activity increases dramatically during the busy holiday season, making drivers more vulnerable to crashes and pedestrians at greater risk for injury.

Media Notes:

  • Visual include a demonstration of parking lot hot spots and hazards
  • GoPro footage from inside an Auto Club Driving School car available
  • Photos from press conference will be posted on CDI's Flickr page https://www.flickr.com/photos/ca_dept_insurance/albums/72157661559879106
  • There are several safety tips to remember when driving in parking lots:
    • Check your surroundings before getting in your car.
    • Look in every direction when backing out of or pulling into a parking space.
    • Keep your foot off the gas as you back up.
    • Slow down and pay attention to posted speed limits.
    • Watch for pedestrians moving in between vehicles.


The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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