Crowded parking lots are a common sight during the holidays.

4 ways to avoid a holiday parking predicament this year

Black Friday is fast approaching, and by most accounts, it’s the busiest shopping day of the year. Typically each Black Friday brings discounts to consumers looking to get their shopping done early for the holidays. As with years gone by, you can expect the lines to be long and the crowds to be plentiful, as 70% of buyers plan on spending during the holiday shopping kickoff, according to a recent survey.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, deal hunters dash for the doors when retailers open bright and early, some going as far as camping out the night before. And while the days that follow aren’t nearly as hectic, you can expect parking lots and shopping malls to be packed up until the final hours of Christmas Eve.

It’s the frantic nature of holiday shopping that may lead to fender-benders, putting a damper on what’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of year.

Roughly 20% of all vehicle collisions that result in damage happen in parking lots, according to estimates from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. These are caused by a wide variety of factors, from driving too fast, to inattention, or simply misjudging how much room there is to squeeze into a parking space.

However, with the right mindset and the proper preparation, you can make sure your holiday shopping bonanza doesn’t end with a literal bang:

Drive extra slowly

Thanks to speed bumps, motorists are unable to drive fast in parking lots. But even when these are in place, accidents can still occur. It ought to go without saying, but make sure you keep your speed limit to no more than 10 miles per hour while driving in parking lots. There are lots of pedestrians getting out of their cars, and you never know when someone will appear.

Stay off mobile technology

You may be eager to see what’s available at the retailer by looking up their website as you find a parking space, but keep your smartphone or wireless device turned off until you come to a complete stop. Taking your eyes off the road for even a split second can result in a fender bender or worse.

Adjust your mirrors

Your side and rearview mirrors are your window to what’s behind you. Without them, you run the risk of hitting another vehicle that’s parked or moving. Before you head out on your holiday shopping adventure, adjust all of your mirrors so that you can see what’s behind you without having to adjust your head. Also, be aware of the blind spots that the side mirrors miss.

Back out carefully

Backing out too quickly is one of the leading reasons for parking lot accidents. When you put your car in reverse, gently nudge the accelerator so fellow drivers and pedestrians can see your intentions. Back up completely once you’re in the clear, making sure to check your mirrors throughout the process.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America offers some additional tips on parking lot etiquette during the Christmas rush.