Shoppers can anticipate numerous hurdles when they hit the stores this season with big crowds, long lines, and plenty of frustration—and that’s just the parking lot.

To help drivers maintain good will toward fellow motorists and pedestrians, AAA Insurance offers tips for parking lot peace this holiday season.

“Even the happiest holiday reveler can become a Scrooge in a busy parking lot, but drivers cannot forget that safety should be the top priority when behind the wheel,” said Brad Oltmans, vice president of insurance for AAA Arizona.

In addition to exercising patience and extra holiday cheer, AAA Insurance recommends the following tips to avoid landing on the naughty list with a parking lot fender-bender:

  • Take a walk, and consider parking by a side entrance and further away to avoid congestion, as well as potential dings and dents. Be sure, however, that if you park in outer-lying spots that it is well lit for your safety.
  • Stay in your lane. Drive only in designated lanes, and in the correct direction. Do not cut through empty spaces across the parking lot, as pedestrians and other drivers will not expect to see traffic from that direction.
  • Eliminate distractions. Take care of phone calls, texts or navigation needs, and stow your phone before pulling out of your parking spot.
  • Watch for pedestrians, especially children. Children are often hard to spot, and are not watching for moving vehicles. Therefore, drivers should reduce their speeds, and parents and guardians should hold kids’ hands.
  • Don’t put yourself in a tight spot, and avoid parking between large vehicles that can block your vision when backing out. If you find that you cannot see well enough to back out safely when you leave, recruit assistance from one of your passengers.
  • Pull forward if possible to avoid backing out of a space by either pulling through an open space ahead or backing into the space, if you can do so safely.
  • Buckle up! Even at low speeds, a collision can result in injuries.
  • Stay alert while on foot. When walking through the parking lot, use crosswalks whenever available, and watch for moving cars and cues, such as lit reverse lights or exhaust. Also, stay off your phone and have your keys ready to allow you to remain watchful and undistracted
  • Protect your presents by stowing shopping bags in the trunk. A thief can steal your gifts in a matter of seconds, so eliminate the temptation by keeping them out of sight.

If you are involved in a collision, determine if anyone was injured and call for emergency medical assistance if needed, then call the local police to file a report. In most cases, an officer will not be dispatched unless there is an injury or significant damage. Also, trade information with all parties involved, gather any details about the incident, including photos, and contact your insurance agent.

Smart phone users can also take advantage of AAA Accident Assist, the AAA Insurance app that guides motorists on what to do immediately following a collision. Available on iTunes and the Android market, this app lists the necessary information to make a claim, offers one-touch access to request a AAA tow, and can put AAA Insurance policy holders in contact with the AAA Insurance claims department.

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