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MCPD: parking lot accidents nearly always preventable

By Jason M. Webb | | August 27, 2009

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Chances are if a motorist is involved in a crash on base, it is more than likely in a parking lot.  Seeing how a great majority of the base consists of parking areas, the odds increase even more.

According to the Marine Corps Police Department’s statistics, 80 percent of all accidents that occur aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., happen in parking lots.

“While these low-speed collisions rarely produce injuries, they do occur frequently, costing you and your insurance company money,” said Lt. Perry A. Mixon Jr., traffic/accident investigations supervisor, MCPD. “All backing accidents are preventable. The best way to protect yourself is to be aware of everything moving 360 degrees around your car. Watch for cars that might be cutting diagonally across the lot, and above all, drive slowly.”

According to MCPD statistics, the parking lot near the Post Office usually has the highest number of accidents.  This is normally attributed to the fact that it has the highest turn around of vehicles entering and leaving since most of the vehicle operators are only there for a few minutes at a time.

The best way to avoid an accident in a high volume parking lot is to simply remain attentive and aware of other vehicles and people.  The MCPD recommends that vehicle operators park in the very center of a parking space, allowing enough room on all sides. 

Mixon said the easiest way to avoid an accident is to park the proper way each time.

“This will allow other drivers to have enough room to park next to you without being too close. It will also allow you enough room to back up without hitting another car. The way that you park can easily prevent parking lot accidents,” he added.  “Don’t pull out of a parking space without looking in front of you or in back of you. Be completely aware of what other drivers around you are doing. Never make a turn or any other type of move in a parking lot if you are unsure about what another driver is planning to do. Awareness and attention are two essential keys to preventing parking lot car accidents.”

According to Cpl. Antron S. Patton, accident investigator, Traffic Unit, MCPD, the MCPD Traffic Unit conducts concentrated patrols in areas that have a high volume of vehicle traffic. “Through our high level of visibility we deter drivers from breaking base traffic regulations; this will decrease the likelihood of accidents from occurring,” Patton said.

Patton added that improper backing is the most common accident that occurs in parking lots, and this type of accident can be prevented by following a few simple rules.

Always honk the horn to alert other pedestrians and drivers when backing up.

Also, don’t rely on the rear view mirror only.  Blind spots limit visibility, so drivers need to physically look out the rear window prior to backing out and while in reverse until out of the parking space.

Follow these steps when reporting an accident on base.

1. Stay clear of any dangerous area; a dangerous situation would be anytime hazardous material leaks/spills, fires or when a vehicle is in/or submerged in water.

2. Dial 911 to speak with an emergency services dispatcher. Dispatchers are trained to receive emergency calls. Dispatchers will notify the appropriate first responders.

3. Wait in a safe place nearby until the emergency first responders arrive and be prepared to describe events.

4. Prepare to explain what happened.


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