Research In Action

Research In Action

parking lot distractions
Parking Lot Distractions
December 19, 2016

Like many of you, I spend considerably more time driving in and out of store parking lots during this time of year. I certainly feel more rushed and stressed, both as a pedestrian and driver, with the increased number of cars and people navigating the tight maze of parking lots. As I recently witnessed a distracted driver almost run into an unsuspecting shopper who was chatting on her phone, I recalled the results from a National Safety Council (NSC) online poll of 2,400+ adults and 1,000+ teens about their driving behaviors. This poll, conducted in March and May 2016, revealed:

  • 66% of adult drivers and 60% of 15- to 17-year-old teens would make phone calls while driving in a parking lot.
  • More than 50% of adults and teens would text while driving in a parking lot.
  • Family was cited among the majority of adults and teens as the motivator for talking on the phone. 
  • Other distractions endorsed by a significant proportion of adults and teens include using the GPS, digital music, grooming, and social media.

It's important to note that the survey asked questions about behavior in the following way: "If permitted, in which of these driving situations would you do each of the activities listed in the table below", and so these responses may not reflect actual behavior, but hypothetical behavior in the absence of laws forbidding use of hand held devices while driving. 

Despite the likely reduced speed of vehicles in a parking lot, the combination of distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians is definitely concerning, especially during this busy shopping season. The NSC reports that every year,  more than 50,000 motor vehicle crashes occur in parking lots and garages, resulting in 500 deaths and over 60,000 injuries. I previously blogged about distracted walking among teens, as well as pedestrian injuries sustained among children. For more tips on parking lot safety, and other holiday safety tips, click here.