Shopping survival guide: Tips to avoid a car park collision

Whether you're doing the weekly grocery run, or heading out for a day of shopping with friends, navigating the shopping centre car park can be a real hassle. How often have you driven around in circles looking for that elusive parking spot, only to be pipped at the post?

What's more, with NRMA Insurance reporting that one in seven vehicle collisions happen in a car park, it pays to take care when hitting the shops.

Typical parking collisions involve reversing into other cars, runaway shopping trolleys and scrapes with pylons and poles. Here are five of the most common hazards and some advice on how to avoid them.

1. Reversing dangers

Parking collisions often happen when one or more cars are reversing, so take extra care and check behind you. It helps to drive slowly when reversing in or out of a car space - and don’t rely entirely on your mirrors or sensors - look over your shoulder as well. Reverse into your parking space if you can, that makes it easier to see in both directions when pulling out.

2. Tangles with trolleys

Stray shopping trolleys are a common hazard in our car parks, in fact, there's around 250 shopping trolley accidents each year. Keep an eye out for any unaccompanied trolleys before you get in your car and always make sure to keep your own shopping trolley close at hand. Do your bit for other drivers by returning shopping trolleys to their bay.

3. Scrapes and scratches

Damaging paintwork or getting a scratch on a new car is enough to ruin anyone's day. But poles, pillars and walls are a common feature in many shopping centre car parks, especially if they're underground. Leave yourself enough room when turning into a parking bay and if possible avoid bays with poles, pillars or walls on both or one side.

4. Avoid busy times

Try to avoid driving to the shops at times when you know the car park will be at a stand still. Claims data shows that Thursday is the most common day for car park collisions, followed closely by Friday. Be aware of times when your concentration may be at low levels and take extra care.

5. Road safety

Always use your indicator when turning so that other drivers know your intentions. This is especially important in a small space like a car park where you are in close proximity to other vehicles. Avoid pulling out around cars that are waiting to drive into a parking space, as this can take some drivers by surprise. Instead, be patient and give them room to move.

Avoid accidents on your shopping trip by observing the parking rules and be alert for any other drivers who don't. If you do hit a parked car, do the right thing and leave a note with your name and contact number. Your insurer will be able to assist you with any follow up needs they may have.

Tensions can rise quickly in shopping centre car parks where everyone is jostling for a spot. Remember to drive slowly and be alert and considerate of other drivers to help ensure a safe and collision free shopping trip.

For more useful tips to stay safe on the road this summer, visit SGIC.