Shopping is often hampered by congested car parks, frayed tempers and countless examples of poor driver behaviour.
Recently released data from the Royal Automobile Association (RAA) revealed how prevalent car park accidents are becoming in Australia and highlighted thought processes that need to change. Of all motor insurance claims that the RAA dealt with in 2013, 13 per cent were the result of car park damage.
According to the RAA, over half (53%) of all stationary damage that happens to vehicles occurs in car parks. And this most commonly occurs during reversing (32%) – either into the car park or trying to squeeze back out with other motorists hassling for your spot.
What damage is occurring?
While many car park accident claims deal with minor dents and scratches, there are other common damages reported, such as smashed tail lights and broken mirrors.
Who is at fault in most cases?
Insurance cases are usually complex so proving who is at fault can be difficult in many claims. However, RAA Claims Manager Hayley Cain explained some of the rules that you should follow.
“You are bound by road rules in a car park the same as on the road so follow the speed limit, road signs and pedestrian markings,” she said.
“But most importantly, take extra care to check your mirrors and for other vehicles when parking and reversing. If you reverse out of a park into them, then you are at fault.”
Ms Cain stated that if you are reversing, you are 100% liable for the claim. If both parties are reversing, then it could be considered 50:50.
How can you avoid car park accidents?
As populations grow, incidents in car parks will continue to rise. If possible, motorists should avoid peak shopping times or days.
Ms Cain explained that you should be picky about where you park to ensure you are not putting yourself into a dangerous situation with another vehicle.
“Most of us have a favourite parking spot, but consider parking further away from the lifts/entrance or going up an extra level rather than taking a spot that looks risky,” she said.
“Stay away from skinny parks, large pillars or walls that block visibility and other vehicles that are encroaching on the adjoining space.”
What do in any accident?
If you have an accident, stay calm. Obtain the other party’s details and information on their vehicle. Use your phone to take photos of the vehicles, the damaged areas, the environment and anything else you think may be relevant. If there are witnesses obtain the name and address of the witnesses. If things become hostile, call security or the police.
Ms Cain explained that security footage could be useful and the more information you gather, the better.
“We had a recent claim where a driver reversed into our Member then denied it. Fortunately an eye witness came forward when they heard the disagreement and supported our Member’s claim,” she said.