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Charleston Airport injury lawyers South Carolina

Stay Safe During Airport Drop-Off and Pick-Up

Many people travel during the holidays with trepidation. Statistically, the highest risk of injury in air travel isn’t on the plane. It’s at the airport

Every year, dozens of people in South Carolina suffer injuries during drop-off or pick-up times at the state’s airports. Heavy traffic, pedestrians loading and unloading luggage, confusing signage, and other factors make airport drop-off and pick-up areas challenging to navigate一 and a zone at high risk for an accident. 

What Makes Airport Drop-Off and Pick-Up Zones Dangerous?

Several factors combine to place those in airport drop-off and pick-up zones at high risk for a crash. These factors include:

  • Many Doors, Little Travel Space. Airport terminals typically have several doors close together, all leading onto one sidewalk area. For example, Charleston International Airport has doors for passengers leaving the baggage handling area, passengers with no checked baggage, and passengers entering the terminal. Sidewalks outside these doors may be served by only one curbside traffic lane, causing traffic jams for pedestrians and vehicles. 
  • Confusing Signs That May Distract Drivers and Pedestrians. Confusing, missing, or poorly lit signs can distract drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Distraction makes a crash more likely to happen.  
  • High Speeds Put Pedestrians at High Risk. Some drivers in airport drop-off and pick-up lanes move slowly as they drive through an unfamiliar space. Many airports, including Charleston’s, use stop signs and speed bumps to further slow traffic near the terminal. Yet not all drivers follow these traffic slowing measures. Taxi drivers, rideshare drivers, and others who know these zones well may drive as quickly as possible in and out of airport traffic. When vehicles travel at varying speeds, pedestrians are at a higher risk of being involved in a tragic crash.
  • Crowded Curbs Create Challenges. Vehicles tend to crowd at the curbsides in drop-off and pick-up areas. People also form crowds in these areas as they wait for a ride or unload their luggage from a vehicle. More people and cars in one area means more opportunities for a crash to happen between a taxi, limo, rideshare car, pedestrian, or another passenger vehicle. Travelers may also cross several lines of traffic to pass between the terminal and the parking garage. 

Charleston International Airport is the 58th largest airport in the United States in terms of passenger volume. Charleston International Airport now provides flights to 60 different cities as opposed to 20 cities a few years back. In 2022, Charleston’s airport handled over 5.3 million passenger arrivals and departures.

This holiday season, Charleston International Airport’s TSA reported an increase of 11 percent in travelers on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and a 10 percent increase in travelers on Sunday. 

Many airports work to identify these issues and address them by adding more lanes or doors to alleviate congestion. Often, airport changes make navigation more complex and invite more frustrated or rushed drivers to speed, resulting in injuries or sometimes death

Navigating Airport Drop-Off and Pick-Up Safely

Airport drop-off and pick-up areas can be dangerous. To protect yourself and others in front of the airport terminal:

  • Plan ahead. Look up maps of the airport before you go. Knowing where you’re headed and what to expect, you can focus on reading signs and get there safely. 
  • Stay alert. As a driver, banish all extra distractions. Don’t text and drive, eat while driving, take a call from a friend, or partake in any other situation unrelated to picking up or dropping off your passenger. As a passenger, keep all your possessions together so you can move quickly when it’s time to load or unload the vehicle. 
  • Leave early during the holidays. Most airports recommend that passengers arrive a few hours before their flight leaves so they can navigate security and other areas. Give yourself ample time on top of your two-hour window to navigate the drop-off area safely.
  • Communicate with your pick-up driver well in advance. Contact your driver once you can use your phone again after your flight lands. It’s important to be patient, especially during busy flight times. If a driver feels rushed, tired, or distracted, they may be involved in a serious crash when trying to arrive quickly.  
  • Consider using taxi, shuttle, or bus services. Off-site parking is often less expensive than on-site parking at major airports. Taxi services and the CARTA bus stop at Charleston’s airport are located outside the Baggage Claim area. Many local hotels also offer courtesy shuttle services, which can be arranged through the hotel. These forms of transportation can help you save money and travel more safely. 

What To Do If You’re Injured at an Airport Terminal

Everyone in an airport drop-off or pick-up zone must look out for their own safety. If someone’s negligence causes you injury at an airport terminal:

  • Seek medical attention immediately. Call 911 or seek help from airport services. 
  • Move out of the way of traffic, if possible. Avoid moving severely injured people. If you or others can move, however, get out of the way of traffic.
  • Takes notes and photographs. Taking pictures or jotting down a diagram of the scene can help preserve vital information about what happened. 
  • Share information with any witnesses. Get contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident. Talk to airport staff to ask for copies of any incident reports as well. 

Finally, don’t hesitate to talk to an experienced South Carolina airport injury lawyer. Your attorney can help you understand your legal rights and explain the best next step forward.

Updated on December 22, 2023

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