The plight of pedestrians in parking lots
As Montgomery County looked over its accident stats, County Executive Isiah Leggett said this morning, it discovered that more than a fifth of pedestrian accidents are happening in parking lots. The county knows the numbers for the past three and a half years (324 pedestrian collisions in parking lots), and it knows that seniors and young adults are disproportionately involved, but it doesn't yet know why parking lots are so dangerous.
Leggett thinks drivers have a different mind-set when they come off the street and enter a parking lot. Pedestrians, too, are presuming a level of personal safety that is not realistic, he said.
Residents of Leisure World who were out doing their shopping said they understand the risks.
Helenlouise C. Pettis, 77, said she was hit by backing up in a parking lot, and she wound up spending three months in a nursing home while she recovered. The incident occurred near the White Flint Mall, she said, but she was doing something she learned in Florida: Walking in the middle of the parking lane, so that drivers could see her.
Didn't help. She heard a noise, felt an impact and went flying through the air. She's extremely cautious walking around lots now. Her safety tips: Use a crosswalk if one is available and always make eye contact with the driver to make sure you've been seen.
A man sitting nearby while he waited for a shuttle bus back to Leisure World said he is legally blind and always wears a bright safety vest to be visible to drivers.
Their collective take: Drivers won't yield to pedestrians in a parking lot. They don't turn their heads in all directions when they are backing up. They do everything too fast. Pedestrians zone out. They also aren't spending enough time looking around.
Leggett said he held the press conference to get people to be more cautious in these environments. (The lot outside Leisure World has no particular problems. In fact, I saw plenty of crosswalks and cautionary signs. But seniors need to be particularly careful.)
Here are some of the county's safety suggestions.
-- Always stay alert for vehicles.
-- Don't assume drivers see you.
-- Watch for vehicles pulling out of parking spaces.
-- Don't walk behind a vehicle that is backing out.
-- Be cautious and look around before walking out between parked vehicles.
-- Treat the parking lot as you would a road -- be aware and constantly look for moving vehicles.
-- Always stay alert for pedestrians.
-- Don't assume pedestrians see you.
-- Be especially cautious backing out of a space when parked next to taller vehicles that obstruct your view.
-- Parking lots are not speedways -- slow down!
-- Never cut across parking space lanes.
-- Treat the parking lot as you would a road -- be aware and constantly look out for pedestrians.
That's a good list, and overlaps with what the Leisure World residents were telling me. What would you add?
October 29, 2009; 1:20 PM ET
Categories: Safety | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, pedestrian safety
Save & Share: Previous: Today's read: Silence of the toll haters
Next: I-66 shoulder opened overtime to ease congestion
Posted by: nevermindtheend | October 29, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Virginiadude1 | October 29, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: WashingtonDame | October 29, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: v2008 | October 29, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: anoel | October 30, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: member5 | October 30, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | November 2, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.