AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – With the holiday season set to bring people in droves to busy parking lots, and across the region for travel and celebration, AAA Texas offered tips in an effort to help avoid hazards that come packaged alongside the festive bustle.

20% of all collisions happen in parking lots, said the association, and can often lead to a range of expensive insurance claims or tragic injuries when a pedestrian is involved. With Thanksgiving and Christmas being the time of year with the highest number of auto insurance claims, AAA Texas said that data shows it is the time with the highest number of crashes.

To avoid crashes in a parking lot, AAA Texas recommended that drivers;

  • Be aware of the hazards around in the parking lot, including pedestrians and other moving vehicles.
  • Don’t drive “Intexticated.” While searching for a parking spot, AAA Texas recommended that drivers not make or take phone calls, read or send texts or emails, or use social media.
  • Drive slowly and obey all traffic and directional signs.
  • Avoid shortcuts such as cutting across parking lanes and rows of parking spots.
  • Watch for pedestrians and other vehicles when backing up.
  • Be extra alert for small children, pets, and parents pushing baby strollers in parking lots.
  • Turn on your headlights, even in the daylight and especially when driving through dark parking garages.

To avoid being locked out of vehicles, AAA Texas recommended;

  • Never leave car keys or key fob inside the vehicle’s passenger compartment, even when helping a passenger or child into the vehicle.
  • Stay focused. Don’t become distracted while getting in or out of your vehicle in the parking lot.
  • Exit the vehicle with the car keys or key fob in hand and use the key fob security system to lock doors.
  • Place car keys or key fob in your pocket or purse when stowing or unloading packages in the trunk.
  • Always double-check that you have your keys in-hand, in your pocket, or purse before exiting the vehicle or closing the trunk.

To prevent auto crimes of opportunity, AAA Texas recommended;

  • Always lock your vehicle with the windows closed. Even if you park your vehicle in a garage, this adds security.
  • Never leave belongings or purchases out in the open of your car since they could tempt thieves – even empty shopping bags, sunglasses, coins, or a change of close might look interesting.
  • Never leave your keys in your vehicle or leave your vehicle running any time you are not inside.
  • Park in populated, well-lit areas.
  • Never hide a spare ignition key in your vehicle. Thieves look for keys in popular hiding places like inside a car bumper or wheel well.
  • Store your key fobs in a metal container when at home. This provides a barrier that interrupts radio signals to or from a smart fob, preventing hackers from opening your vehicle.

The Panhandle Auto Burglary & Theft Unit also issued tips and tricks for staying safe in the holiday season, and officials continue to advise caution even during holiday festivities.