Car park collisions spike during "silly season"

Car park collisions spike during "silly season" | Insurance Business Australia

Car park collisions spike during "silly season"

Shopping centre car-park collisions soar during the “silly season” or festive season, according to the Australian Associated Motor Insurers (AAMI).

In its latest report, AAMI analysed nearly 22,000 car-park insurance claims it received across the country from December 01, 2020, to November 30, 2021.

It found that the highest number of shopping centre car-park collisions (2,554) occurred in December, followed closely by January (2,106). It also found approximately 40% more car park crashes in December than the monthly average for the 12 months to November 30, 2021.

“It's the busiest time of the year for shopping centres, and trying to find that elusive car park can be a nightmare,” said Matthew Pugliese, AAMI head of motor claims in Victoria and Tasmania. “For those sick of online shopping or grabbing those last-minute gifts, be prepared to battle it out for a car park with other Christmas shoppers.”

More than a third (40%) of shopping centre car-park collisions included accidental damage to an insured driver's vehicle while parked and they were away from the vehicle, such as car door dings.

Almost a quarter (24%) of shopping centre car-park collisions involved an insured driver hitting a stationary object such as a bollard, shopping trolley, or pillar or wall. Meanwhile, a quarter of shopping centre car-park collisions occurred when at least one driver was reversing, and around one in 10 (11%) involved an insured driver hitting a parked car.

Read more: Report reveals the worst car crash hotspots in Australia

In October 2021, AAMI named Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, and Perth the top car crash hotspots across Australia from July 01, 2020, to June 30, 2021. During the same period, Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart held onto their dubious crowns, and Darwin debuted in the rankings.

However, AAMI's report covering December 01, 2020, to November 30, 2021, hailed the Melbourne suburb of Chadstone, home to one of the country’s largest shopping centres, as Australia's worst hotspot for car park collisions.

Considering the data above, AAMI advises consumers to:

  • Take their time when parking or reversing out of a car space;
  • Watch out for children, particularly when reversing;
  • Watch out for stationary objects, including pillars and trolleys;
  • Be patient and make sure to keep a safe distance between them and the car in front or back;
  • Resist the urge to park quickly, particularly in shopping centre car parks when turning circles are tighter than they once were; and
  • Avoid peak times for shopping to avoid crowds and increase chances of finding a car park quickly.

“All year-round, drivers expect to find a car space typically within 3 to 5 minutes. During the festive period, when car parks are busy, we find that once we pass the 5-minute mark, we start to feel annoyed and impatient, and the longer it takes, the more frustrated we become; then we're at heightened risk of a prang,” Pugliese said.

“Our message to drivers this silly season who find themselves doing laps of the shopping centre car park is to stay calm and avoid letting your emotions and impatience get the better of you. If we don't keep these things in check, this can quickly escalate to driving erratically, which as we know is how accidents happen.”