With their tight turns, many pylons, steep ramps, narrow lanes, and wedged-together spaces, car parks are - not surprisingly - common sites for accidents.

Car parks are hot spots for vehicle scrapes, dents, bumps, and scratches. Driving in car parks is made difficult by pylons, steep or twisting ramps, low-light conditions, tightly packed parking spaces, a high concentration of vehicles, and pedestrians going to and from their cars.

Aside from tight corners, poles and pylons, in a car park your vehicle is at risk from other cars and shopping trolleys.

Most drivers have either seen or been involved in a collision in a parking area, according to an article published by the Victorian Injury Surveillance System and Monash University in Hazard magazinei. These accidents are perceived as minor and part of day-to-day lifei, yet Work Safe Australia has identified that managing traffic in shopping centre car parks is essential to minimise the risk of serious accidents and injuriesii.

Being extra cautious when driving in a car park may prevent your vehicle from being damaged, prevent you from being at fault in an accident with another vehicle, and reduce the risk of pedestrian injury. We provide some tips to help make driving and parking in car parks a less stressful experience.

Risks and hazards in the car park

Keeping trolleys at bay - Shopping trolleys are a concern for drivers in shopping centre car parksii. Be vigilant and check blind spots for stray trolleys when pulling into or reversing out of a parking space. You can also do your bit to reduce the risk of accidents by returning trolleys to a trolley collection bay.

Pay attention to pylons - Double check your mirrors as well as your blind spots when exiting or entering a car space to avoid scraping the side of your vehicle against a pole or pylon.

Look out for non-passenger vehicles - Shopping centre parking areas are filled with non-passenger vehicles such as trolley collection trailers, delivery trucks, and forklifts. When driving in and around car parks, make sure to take special care and look out for these vehicles; they tend to be slower than passenger vehicles, and they may need a little time to finish their task and move out of the way.

Take care by keeping a close watch out for pedestrians - especially small children - in car parks.

Watch out for pedestrians - Check your blind spots for pedestrians when pulling into and out of a parking space. Low speed, 'off road' locations including car parks and driveways have been identified as high-risk sites for accidents involving small childreniii.

Be wary of other drivers - When waiting for a car to vacate from a parking space, or when reversing out of a car space, look out for drivers who may want to drive around you.

Get your car insurance in order

With many vehicles crammed into a small space driving at a stop-start pace, car parks put vehicles at greater risk of a bump or scrape. While the damage may only be minor, it could potentially take a big bite out of your wallet if you're not insured. In the event of damage to your car or another's when you are at fault, car insurance can help protect you from financial loss.

i Haworth, N. & Young, W. 1994, Injuries and Vehicle Damage in Off-street Parking Areas, VISS & Monash University, viewed 25 July 2013,
, p.10

ii Safe Work Australia 2013, Traffic Management Guide: Shopping Centres, viewed 25 July 2013,

iii Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure 2013, Road Safety: Driveway Safety, Government of South Australia, viewed 25 July 2013,