Holiday shopping can be stressful and frustrating enough on its own. Throw in the added hassle of arguing over parking spaces, fender benders, vehicle break-ins and theft, and the holiday shopping season can turn the cheeriest Who in Whoville into a Grinch.

Here are a few safety tips for holiday shopping season.

Parking lot traffic

Breathe. A parking space isn’t worth getting into a fender bender, a shouting match, or worse. Before you venture out, prepare yourself – expect the parking situation to be stressful.

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  • Don’t assume other drivers see you.
  • Don’t be surprised when another driver swoops in and takes a parking spot you are waiting for.
  • And no matter how upset someone makes you, never get out of your car to confront another driver. There’s always another space available somewhere in the parking lot. The amount of time it takes to find a new spot is nothing compared to the time it will take to deal with mall security or police if you and another driver get into an altercation.

Save the texts for inside

Remember, texting and driving is illegal in most states. Between pedestrians loaded with bags, kids running through the parking lot, cars pulling out without looking, and a higher than normal volume of traffic, the mall parking lot is hazardous enough. Don’t make the situation more difficult by texting.

Even while walking in the parking lot, texting puts you at risk of being hit by a car or could make you an easy, distracted target. Keep yourself safe by paying attention in the parking lot, both behind the wheel and when walking.

Park in well-lit areas

Aside from providing some personal safety, parking in well-lit areas can help avoid fender benders as you try to pull out of your space. Keep in mind what time it gets dark. The well-lit spot you grab at 2:30 in the afternoon might be in the dark when you return a couple hours later. If you know you’ll be shopping past sunset, you might consider grabbing a spot closer to a light – even if it’s a bit farther to walk.

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Don’t invent your own parking space

The architects who design mall parking lots know exactly how much space is necessary for a car to turn out of a parking row without hitting anything. When you create a new spot at the end of a row, you encroach on the travel lanes and put your car and others at risk. Many malls will have local police come and ticket or even tow offenders who create their own spaces. Save yourself the headache and make the extra couple laps around the lot to find a real space.

Can you see the gift in your back seat? So can a thief

Don’t leave gifts or other valuable items visible in your car. If you can see it from outside the car, so can a thief. Put bags, purses and any other valuables in the trunk. If you can’t fit them in the trunk, bring a blanket to cover them. And plan your purchases. Try to buy the largest item last so that once you have it in the car, you can head home.

 

There’s strength in numbers. Shop with a friend.

Shop with friends

Team up when you go shopping and you can help each other stay safe going to and from the car. Besides, as busy as holiday schedules can be, this is also a great way to spend some quality time with your friends or family.

 

Move your car

No one likes to fight through mall crowds while weighed down with bags. Often, shoppers will return to their cars, drop off their bags, and go back to shopping. If you do this, you should consider moving your car to a new space. Thieves watch for someone to drop gift bags into their car or trunk then return to the mall. You may not want to deal with parking again, but it’s worth it to protect your purchases. And who knows, you may find a better spot!

Never leave your car running

No matter how quickly you think you can get in and out of a store, never leave your car running while unattended. Aside from being a theft risk, it’s illegal to leave an unattended car running in Maryland.

 

And the simplest tip of all…don’t forget to lock your car.

We wish you a very happy, safe, and low-stress holiday season.