Dreaming of a Mall Holiday?

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

Ah the holidays, “the most wonderful time of the year.”  You’ve made your list.  You’ve checked it twice.  Sure, you’ve ordered some gifts online but it just not the same as shopping at a brick and mortar store.  You love the carols and decorated windows.  You enjoy sharing smiles and warm greetings with other shoppers, indulging in a hot cocoa and cookie, and carrying festive bags to your car.  So, you’re off to the mall.

That’s when the dream begins to unravel.  Before you can hear the jingle bells, see the glittery displays, and drink your hot cocoa, you have to park your car.  Can there be a worse place than a retail parking lot in December?

It’s mayhem from the moment you enter the lot until the moment you leave.  AAA Mid-Atlantic offers some great tips for navigating the mall parking lot:

Play the outfield.  Everyone wants a space near the door and many will fight for the right to park upfront.  Head to the back of the lot.  Usually, the outlying area has more open spaces, lighter traffic, and a lower risk of collision.  But, remote spaces may be less secure, so be mindful of the risks particularly returning to your car at night.  If you’re shopping alone and have a number of packages, ask a mall security guard to accompany you to your car.

See and be seen.  Use your headlights when searching for a space in a parking garage. Avoid parking between a pair of SUVs or minivans as it might be hard to back out of the space.

Remember where you’ve parked.   Choose a well-lit area to park during early morning hours and at night.  Pay attention to where you’ve parked, noting signs and markers.  Take a picture with your smartphone.  When returning to your car, have your keys in hand and check the car’s interior before entering the vehicle.  Use a penlight at night.

Stay on track and be alert.  When behind the wheel always watch for pedestrians, especially small children.  Pedestrians should use walkways and crosswalks, if available.  If pedestrians must walk in traffic lanes, they should watch for exhaust or reverse lights – a sure sign that the vehicle is about to pull out.

Put it down.  Mobile devices distract pedestrians and can lead to unfortunate encounters with vehicles, other pedestrians, or even thieves.  Drivers, too, should stow the mobile device and pay attention to the activity around them.

Use the trunk.  It takes a thief only a few seconds to smash a car window.  Lock you purchases in the trunk, away from prying eyes.

Take transit.  Check out the bus schedules on njtransit.com.  NJ Transit is offering extended service on many popular bus routes to major malls until December 27.

If your holiday experience includes a trip to the mall, be bright, be merry, and be safe.

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