Keep Safety and Security atop your Shopping List this Season

AAA shares seven safety essentials

Phoenix, Dec. 2, 2013. The shopping landscape has changed with earlier opening hours and more cyber deals. As a safety advocate, AAA Insurance urges consumers to use caution when crossing items off their list whether shopping in person or online this holiday season.

“Whether it’s the thrill of the ultimate deal, or panic that there are fewer days to shop this season, holiday shopping shouldn’t come at the expense of safety or security,” said Brad Oltmans, vice president of insurance for AAA Arizona. “More retailers are opening earlier than ever before and are extending shopping hours earlier and later. AAA advises shoppers to be aware of their surroundings, especially in dark parking lots, and stay alert while out and about.”

AAA Arizona reminds shoppers to remain alert while driving in crowded parking lots and garages. Careless and inattentive driving in these tight areas could result in additional holiday expenses, including fender-benders, personal injuries and a general Grinch-like attitude. About 20 percent of all vehicle collisions that result in damage claims occur in parking lots, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Follow AAA’s Seven Essentials for Shopping Safety:

  1. Stay on guard in parking lots. Park in well-lit areas and be aware of your surroundings.  When returning to your vehicle, have keys ready in hand, check under your car and in the back seat before getting in, and lock your doors if they don’t lock automatically. 


  1. Park smart. Park straight and avoid parking next to crooked cars. If safe to do so, avoid backing out of a space by either backing into it to park or finding a “pull-through” space.


  1. See and be seen. Use your headlights when scouring parking garages for spaces, even during the day. Avoid parking between a pair of vehicles where it might be hard to back out of the space. If you can’t see well enough to back out safely, get help from a passenger, if possible.


  1. Obey the laws. Drive the speed limit, stop at stop signs, buckle up, don’t park in handicap spaces and avoid distractions.


  1. Watch for children, and “distracted” pedestrians. It can be difficult to see small children who may make quick, unpredictable movements in parking lots. Also, watch for people who may be distracted on their phones as they walk to and from their cars.  


  1. Lock your car and hide valuables. Thieves like to window shop. Hide shopping bags and valuables in the trunk, including GPS units and their mounts, and always lock your car.
  2. Shop securely. Use cash or credit only. Compromised debit information puts your bank account at risk. Carry only the essential credit, debit and ID in your wallet. If shopping online, use only sites you know and trust. Secure websites have “https://” rather than “http://” in front of the web address. Also, never use public Wi-Fi for online shopping or banking. Be sure to keep receipts for all transactions should you need to provide documentation for a fraud claim.

“If you’re making some big purchases over the holidays, whether for yourself or as a gift, it’s wise to check your homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure it will be covered,” said Oltmans. “Popular holiday gifts like certain dog breeds or trampolines may increase your rates or may not be covered at all.”

AAA is a full-service insurance agency. For more information, visit

AAA Arizona provides automotive, insurance and auto travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways annually. Since 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.