When we talk about safe driving, we typically think about roads and highways, but not parking lots and garages. However, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 50,000 crashes occur in parking lots and garages nationwide each year, causing 500 or more deaths, and injuring at least 60,000 people.
Most workers begin and end their workday in a parking lot or garage. A few preventive measures can help improve their safety as they arrive and leave work.
What your employees need to know
Many motorists are not completely focused on the road as they leave or enter a parking lot. NSC statistics show drivers frequently make phone calls, send text messages, and/or use program navigation systems while driving through parking lots. People walking to and from cars could be talking with coworkers or using a cell phone and also might not be paying attention.
This inattention increases the risk of injury from vehicle crashes that involve both other vehicles and pedestrians.
Also, while cars move much slower in parking lots than on outside roads, a driver in a hurry could still drive at an unsafe speed—which also puts themselves, other motorists, and pedestrians at greater risk.
What your employees need to do
First, it’s best to keep the cellphone in a pocket, purse, or belt clip while either walking or driving through a parking lot. The distractions from cell phone use can lead to collisions especially when neither the driver nor the pedestrian is paying attention. If a phone call is absolutely necessary, step off to the side or place the call and complete it inside the vehicle before leaving the parking space.
For pedestrians, take the time to look around, get the lay of the land, and recognize any potentially hazardous situations. A quick scan of the parking lot might help them avoid a speeding or distracted motorist.
And, employees should report any unsafe conditions to you or another supervisor.
At your safety meeting
Discuss the specific layout of your parking lot or parking garage. Consider conducting the meeting in the lot or garage as the weather allows. Here you can show employees any twists and turns in the roadway, any tight corners, and areas where accidents are most frequent. Another option is to provide a diagram or floor plan of your lot and point out these particular areas.
Remind employees not to talk on the phone while walking through the parking lot and to always be aware of their surroundings. Encourage them to report any instances of speeding or distracted driving. You might even develop a form for them to fill out and turn in.
We may not think of parking lots and garages as dangerous places, but they can be if people are not paying attention or drive too fast. By encouraging your employees to be aware of their surroundings, take precautions, and drive safely, you help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries that may occur in the parking lot or garage they use at work.