Jul 242013

Why are Shopping Malls and Plaza Parking Lots So Dangerous?

Shopping malls and plaza parking lots are dangerous places, especially the entrances and exits. Many shopping malls in the Philadelphia area see hundreds if not thousands of cars per day. This often means that traffic flow patterns around the area will be affected, translating into an increased risk of all kinds of accidents, including:

  • car accidents,
  • truck accidents,
  • motorcycle accidents, and
  • pedestrian accidents.

Parking Lot Design Issues Which Contribute to Car Accidents

If not designed properly, parking lot entrances and exits to shopping malls and plazas can divert excess traffic onto surrounding roads and highways in ways which increase the risk of accidents. Generally, large cities like Philadelphia require traffic studies prior to building new shopping malls or plazas. These studies assess traffic flow patterns of surrounding areas to determine the safest design for parking lot entrances and exits. Issues such as placement of stop signs, yield signs, and traffic lights are all important parts of a traffic study.

However, for older shopping plazas and malls, traffic studies, if they were performed at all, are outdated. Neighborhoods change over time. What was appropriate for a specific area 10 or even 5 years ago may hardly be appropriate today. Parking lot entrances and exits which funnel traffic must do so reasonably, especially when adjacent to one way roads or especially busy roads.

There are dozens of large shopping plazas throughout the Philadelphia area. For example, there are countless shopping centers and strip malls near Roosevelt Boulevard. Some were built over 30 years ago, when traffic on Roosevelt Boulevard was a fraction of what it is today. A shopping plaza parking lot with only two exits/entrances, one of which is directly on Roosevelt Boulevard, may have been sufficient 20 years ago, but today, creates an influx of traffic, especially at rush hour. If you study the numbers of car, truck and pedestrian accidents, you will probably see a steady increase over the past several years. This increase may point to a problem with the design of the parking lot. Additional stop signs, yield signs and/or traffic signals may be appropriate to alleviate the problem. In addition, traffic signs which prohibit certain types of actions, such as prohibiting left turns between 5 to 7 p.m., may be appropriate.


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The lawyers at Schwartz & Blackman represent those injured in car and motorcycle accidents in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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