December 23, 2018 3:36 pm

December demolition derby: Mall parking lot crashes peak with Christmas shopping crunch

With two shopping days left before Christmas, it's high season for bad drivers. ICBC says crashes in mall parking lots peak in December and as Kristen Robinson reports, drivers are urged to pack their patience as they battle to find a parking spot during the final holiday rush.


Last minute holiday shoppers will likely have to fight crowds inside the mall and for some, getting there is half the battle.

Tackling the mall parking lot is the first step in the late Christmas giving dash — and it often brings out the worst in drivers.

“You can sometimes see that people are fighting each other for the spot,” one man at Burnaby’s Metrotown Mall told Global News.

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“It’s complicated to get a spot. I got really frustrated because I’ve been waiting for more than one hour to get a spot,” he said.

The struggle to find a free mall parking stall only gets worse as Dec. 25 creeps closer.

“It took me about 35 minutes to find a parking space and that was with some battling with some other people,” a young male Metrotown shopper told Global News after witnessing several motorists exhibiting questionable Christmas spirit.

WATCH: Last minute gift seekers crowd malls for busiest shopping day of the year

“Shenanigans, a lot of tom foolery down here. People taking other spots that people were waiting for. People tailing people from the doors to their spot,” he said.

Stealing or stalking that perfect parking space can not only be frustrating, but dangerous.

READ MORE: B.C. drivers say driving in the province has gotten worse in 5 years

ICBC statistics show there were about 150,000 crashes involving parked cars or collisions in parking lots in 2017,  resulting in 5,400 injuries.

While most smash-ups happen at low speeds and only result in vehicle damage, the hits still add up. ICBC estimates the costs of the hundreds of thousands of vehicle damage claims it receives every year top $1.5 billion.

The Christmas rush leads to crunch time, literally, in shopping centre parkades.

WATCH: Security footage released by ICBC shows man allegedly faking parking lot injury

“It does peak during the winter months, specifically December,” ICBC spokesperson Joanna Linsangan told Global News.

“That’s when most crashes happen in parking lots.”

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Based on a sample of statistics from seven B.C. shopping centres, ICBC says an average of 200 crashes occurred in mall parking lots last year. Most collisions happened between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

“They can happen because people are kind of rushing it,” another man at Metrotown told Global News.

One woman shopping at Metrotown noticed the opposite: drivers slowing down and blocking traffic.

“They were just stalled creating a giant line up behind them,” she said.

WATCH: Removal of wheelchair accessible parking spot from Surrey strip mall raises safety concerns.

ICBC says the rules of the road still apply on private property, and parking lots with increased congestion and heavy pedestrian traffic are no exception.

Motorists who park further away from the mall entrance will potentially avoid busy traffic hubs and reduce the chances of crashing into another vehicle or striking a pedestrian.

ICBC also urges drivers to reverse into mall parking spots whenever possible because it helps you avoid the risk of reversing into a lane with potential blind spots when making your getaway.

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“It seriously is the best way to keep yourself safe and to make sure that you have the visibility when you’re entering a laneway,” said Linsangan.

Packing your patience is also key as ICBC warns there is no point in having a showdown with another driver over a parking spot.

“I was thinking about that, possible road rage incidents so I was practicing my breathing,” said the woman who witnessed slow motorists apparently stopping for no reason.

Remaining calm and passing on good karma are just a couple of the tips that will help drivers ensure the Christmas crush inside the mall doesn’t translate into a demolition derby outside.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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