It’s commonplace to say that Christmas is for children. For many of us, some of our fondest memories is the special joy of the winter holidays—spending extra time with family and friends, rejoicing in the first real snowfall of the season, helping make (and eat!) special holiday meals, and, of course, opening presents.
The weeks leading up to Christmas, though, are frenzied times at malls, outlets, shops, and department stores. The frenzy isn’t confined indoors, but also to the parking lots. Parking lot traffic accidents involving pedestrians reach a peak during the holiday shopping season each year. And, unfortunately, this is also a special time for children, who are all too often the victims of parking lot pedestrian accidents in Pennsylvania.
Why Kids? Why Now?
The good news is that the number of children struck by motor vehicles in general traffic has been declining over the last several decades. However, the general improvements in childhood pedestrian safety haven’t trickled down to parking lot situations. About 22 percent of all pedestrian accidents in parking lots involve children. Pedestrian injuries account for around a quarter of all deaths for children under age 14.
The holiday shopping season is a time of special risk for children. Preschool children will often accompany parents on holiday shopping trips. Older children like to spend extra time window-shopping—the better to refine their Christmas lists. While children are always a common presence in shopping center foot traffic, the bigger crowds in this season naturally include more young people.
Of course, no driver deliberately targets children for parking lot injuries. But a number of factors work together to produce the result that children are often victimized in Pennsylvania parking lot pedestrian accidents:
- Small size – Children are much easier for a driver to overlook. The small height and minimal profile means that a child may not be seen in the driver’s lateral “blind spots,” across the hood, or in the rearview mirrors.
- No markers for intersections – Children know to look for crosswalks, stop signs, and lighted signals to help them cross traffic. Parking lots don’t have any of these guidance systems, and children don’t know how to cope with key elements of their safety training unavailable.
- Dart-outs – Kids tend to run out into traffic lanes or stop moving behind cars that are backing out of parking places. This is probably due to their unsophisticated motor and cognitive skills.
- Poor risk assessment and underdeveloped judgment – According to some scientists, children up to age 10 are not able to integrate what they perceive with their safety training. In simpler terms: they just aren’t able to understand how traffic works because their brains are not yet fully developed.
- Distraction – Excitement over visiting the mall and anticipation of meeting the department store Santa can mean children simply are unable to concentrate on watching for traffic risks.
The Kids Are Not the Problem
Let’s be clear on one thing: even if a child isn’t doing a perfect job watching for parking lot traffic, he bears no responsibility for any injury that happens in an accident. The driver has an enormous duty to watch for children and other pedestrians in a parking lot, and he will be held accountable if an injury occurs.
If your child has been a victim of a parking lot accident in central Pennsylvania, you need answers immediately. At Schmidt Kramer, our Harrisburg parking lot injury lawyers stand ready to provide worried parents with a FREE consultation about their child’s pedestrian accident case. To schedule your conference and to obtain a FREE download of our introductory brochure, Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured in an Automobile Accident?, call our Harrisburg office at 717-888-8888 locally or 888-476-0807 statewide. All our child injury cases are handled on a contingency basis: you do not pay any legal fees unless we are able to win a financial recovery or settlement.