Motorcycles are easy to park given their size and maneuverability. However, parking lots can be dangerous places for motorcycle riders. Their small size makes bikes less visible to most drivers who are conditioned to look for cars and often miss motorcycles until it’s too late.

An all too common scenario as a motorcycle is riding through a parking lot looking for a place to park and a car rounds a corner, backs up or crosses the path of the bike, failing to yield to the biker’s right-of-way. Though the impact is usually small compared to a collision on a highway or city street, the driver is still at risk of serious injury—and even death—when the bike goes down.

Parking Lot Dangers for Bikers

Parking lots pose unique dangers for motorcyclists. First, motorists and riders share a common problem regarding focus. Many let their guard down in a parking lot and are less attentive to other vehicles. Car drivers quit focusing on the parking lot lanes and are less likely to see other vehicles, especially motorcycles. Bike riders suffer from the same problem increasing the risk of not seeing a vehicle before it’s too late.

Second, distractions from cell phone use has become a significant problem in parking lots and garages according to the National Safety Council (NSC). In a study they conducted, they found that as many as two-thirds of drivers may be pulling into shopping centers distracted. It is also reported that one in five accidents in the U.S. happen in parking lots.

It’s not surprising that the increase in cellphone use across the country translates into increased distracted driving in parking lots come. One of the reasons is that when drivers enter a parking lot, they often feel that it’s ok to use their phone or text since they are now off the streets and going slower.

Finally, parking lots are notorious for their potholes, cracks and general disrepair. Most parking lots are privately maintained, and in California, the law does not require that parking lots be maintained to the same level as a roadway. This can be problematic for a bike rider as potholes, loose gravel and debris can cause a lot of damage and serious injuries if a bike goes down,

Types of Accidents in Parking Lots

One of the most damaging collisions occurs when a car crosses the path of a bike not giving the rider time to react. The resulting impact—even at lower speeds—can send the rider over the handle bars and onto the pavement. This type of accident is known for producing head trauma, broken bones and severe road rash.

Another is the lay-down. This is when a rider has to make a quick decision to lay the bike down to avoid a more serious accident. The only problem is, a lay down can produce serious road rash abrasion and avulsion injuries, and can do considerable damage to a bike.

These are some of the common scenarios that result in a parking lot motorcycle accident:

  • Backing out of a space: The low profile of a motorcycle makes it difficult to see, so many drivers back out into the path of a bike.
  • Rounding the rows of parked cars: Drivers focused on a specific spot or in a hurry, will often quickly round the end of one row and enter another. Bikes are often not on the radar of the driver and can be hit.
  • Cross-stall driving: Many drivers cross an empty portion of a parking lot and traverse the designated parking lanes. This is ok until a motorcycle comes out from behind a parked car and into the path of the vehicle.

Who has the Right-of-Way?

There are few laws that address parking lot driving, however California law does say that each driver should not operate their vehicle in a manner that disregards the safety of others. Also, the law treats the right-of-way in a parking lot the same as it does on the streets. All vehicle operators must stop at stop signs, obey crosswalks and flashing caution lights and don’t travel over 15 mph.

Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Always speak to a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyer attorney after any motorcycle wreck in a parking lot. We provide free consultations to riders of all ages and walks of life who have had their lives disrupted by motorcycle accidents. We provide a dedicated and personal approach to each case we represent, to ensure the financial outcome is reflective of the injuries sustained. Our diligent approach to delivering justice for your injuries is second to none, and an area of personal pride.