Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Crash course in parking-lot safety

They're accidents waiting to happen: A quarter of city's collisions happen there

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PARK AND CRASH... I was leaving Costco the other day, returning my shopping cart to the cart corral, when I heard a horn honking and looked to see a car almost back into a passing vehicle.

The young man who was collecting the carts also glanced in the direction of the near-collision.

And we started talking.

I told him how a lot of people seem to drive their cars outside the store the way they push their carts inside.

They seem to be in such a hurry.

What really bothers me, I told him, is seeing mothers with little ones trying to carry groceries and keep their kids close in the nearby Safeway parking lot, while speeding drivers treat the area like a city street. The young man at Costco only added to my anxiety when he volunteered that there are about four accidents a day in their parking lot. That was only his observation, of course. But it made me wonder if Manitoba Public Insurance had any stats on parking-lot collisions.

Turns out, it does.

On average, MPI spokesman Brian Smiley reported, Winnipeg has about 56,000 motor-vehicle collisions each year and about 25 per cent of them happen in parking lots. That includes hit-and-runs but it means MPI handles 14,000 parking-lot claims a year in Winnipeg, and in many if not most cases, they judge both parties responsible 50-50, because the drivers have different stories and no independent witnesses. So, Smiley advised if you're involved in a collision that isn't your fault, look for an independent witness and get their contact information because their story may help the adjuster make a decision.

With that in mind, I asked Smiley if MPI had any parking-lot safety tips to pass along.

Here they are:

-- Drive defensively, which also means slowly, through parking lots, always anticipating a vehicle to back out, or a pedestrian to walk into your path.

-- Back into the stall to give yourself a better field of vision when you're leaving.

-- If you're waiting to take a parking spot, give the other vehicle enough room to leave.

-- Park farther away, where there are fewer parked vehicles, better sightlines and less chance of having the vehicle beside you smack your door.

And here's one more tip from me.

It's for parents who go shopping with children. Get help carrying your groceries to the parking lot and please hold your little one's hand.

Speed can kill in a parking lot, too.

-- -- --

SALUTE AND THREE CHEERS... There were 1,300 people at the sold-out Sons of Italy's 27th annual gala Saturday at the convention centre -- so many that it was tough to know who all was there. But Premier Greg Selinger showed up, as did Opposition Leader Brian Pallister, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, Bombers boss Garth Buchko and new Manitoba Hydro president and CEO Scott Thomson. Plus, there was a long list of MLAs and a smattering of city councillors.

The names of all of the politicians were mentioned from the podium; all but one, that is. Noticeably absent from the acknowledgements was the premier's attendance, maybe because he could only be there early for the cocktail portion. Still, he should have been mentioned.

That nit-pick aside, it was a first-class evening, highlighted by the presence of the Pope of Osborne Village, MC Father Sam Argenziano, the food, and the presentation of a $100,000 cheque to the St. Boniface Hospital Foundation. That gift will help establish a collaborative heart research project between scientists from Italy and researchers at St. Boniface General Hospital. And I can only imagine how much that means to my friend Tony De Luca, whose life was saved at St. Boniface hospital a few years ago when he collapsed from a heart attack in the emergency room.

So, "salute" to Tony, St. Boniface hospital and our sons and daughters of Italy.

-- -- --

THE LAST LAUGH... A few months ago, hockey mum Lisa McBride was driving with her three children when the kids started talking about what they wanted to be when they grow up.

One daughter said she'd like to be a teacher and the other daughter said she wants to be a teacher, too.

Then Lisa asked her eight-year-old Jack, who plays centre for a Fort Garry North team, what he wanted to be when he grows up.

"I'm going to play for the Winnipeg Jets," Jack said confidently, as if all he has to do is apply for the job.

Lois chuckled under her breath.

"OK, that's great," she told her little guy. "But if that doesn't work out for you. Then what do you want to be?"

"Well, Jack answered, sounding disappointed already, "I guess I'll play for the Toronto Maple Leafs."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 19, 2013 B2

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