Maroochydore in Queensland had second worst shopping centre nationally with 105 crash incidents, while Sydney’s major shopping hub Chatswood ranked third in Australia with 104 car park crashes.
Shopping centres are “bedlam” at this time of year, AAMI’s behavioural economist Phillip Slade said. The results found there were 37 per cent more car-park crashes in December, totalling 2674 nationally, closely followed by January with 2185.
Almost one-third of all prangs occurred when a driver was reversing. One-quarter of car-park collisions involved a stationary object such as a bollard, shopping trolley or pillar/ wall.
“There are a higher number of people on holidays at this time of year, and people like myself, who don’t often shop, at this time of year go to the shops and are less familiar with the car park,” Mr Slade said.
“There are those who aren’t familiar with the layout and are driving more hesitantly, as well as those who have been there regularly and know where they want to go and drive more aggressively.”
A week ago, parking-lot frustration ended in an ugly physical dispute where a driver was pushed to the ground in the Happy Valley car park in Victoria.
The woman had become frustrated at another car blocking her way. Captured on video by onlookers, the woman is seen nudging her vehicle into the one blocking her way. An ugly clash followed where the frustrated driver was pushed to the ground by the driver of the vehicle that she had nudged, Channel 7 reported.
“All year-round drivers expect to find a car space typically within three-five minutes,” Mr Slade said.
“During the festive period when car parks are busy we find that once we pass the five-minute mark we start to feel annoyed and impatient – and the longer it takes, the more frustrated we become as we are not meeting our goal.”
The behavioural economist also recommended making sure your youngest passengers stay entertained and keep their cool, to make sure you get out of the shopping centre scrape-free.
“Drivers are also more likely to have children in the car in December and January and they can get agitated and make drivers flip their lid, so keep the kids entertained,” Mr Slade said.
“The key thing is to expect to take 20-25 minutes to get a space, and if you get a car park quickly, your brain will consider it a win.”
with Toby Crockford
Julie Power is a senior journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald.
Ashleigh McMillan is a breaking news reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org