We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Back It Up Right There

How to do it properly

By Steve Wallace, Victoria Times Colonist, April 1, 2011

There is a good case to be made for avoiding reverse gear, particularly when it involves parking.

Reversing is the cause of many more crashes than insurance companies would lead us to believe. Regardless of the urban or rural locations throughout our country, it is a fact that the highest crash sites are parking lots. Many parking mishaps are minor in nature, and are settled by an on-the spot cash exchange. The lower cost of a fender bender, compared to a full-blown high-speed crash, is a key motivation to conclude an on-the-spot settlement. This type of solution will usually avoid a hefty insurance premium increase in subsequent years. This is the reason why so many of these types of crashes go unreported to both police authorities and insurance companies.

Drivers should always choose a pull-through space in a parking lot. Parking this way allows a driver to leave the space in forward gear, with good visibility. Avoiding the parking spaces at the end of a row of parked cars is a good decision. Drivers are often distracted while trolling for a parking space. They cut corners while looking for the ideal close-to-the store parking spot.

I prefer the parallel park. It is a good way to protect the car doors from dents by inconsiderate drivers and, more likely, passengers of other vehicles.

Angle parking is not the best choice for drivers who are looking for a safe exit. It is impossible to get a clear view of traffic when backing out among vehicles such as cube vans.

The most popular parking choice is the simple nose-in 90-degree park. It is very easy to enter, but difficult to leave. It is best to walk from the back of a nose-in parking space before leaving such a space. At least there is a comfort in knowing the rear of the vehicle is unobstructed. Approaching from the front of a vehicle parked nose-in, without first walking to the rear, is simply asking for trouble. If no through parking spot is available, it is best to back into a parking space.

Here is the best way to back a vehicle: Make sure there are no hazards behind the vehicle before entering. Shift to reverse gear. The white back-up lights will be on, which show the intention to reverse the vehicle. Toot the horn twice. This is the audible international method to warn everyone within earshot that the vehicle is about to move in reverse. Perform a 360-degree check of the area around the vehicle. Begin to move slowly while looking over the right shoulder between the front seats. It is acceptable to use one hand on the steering wheel while backing. The left hand should be placed at 12 o’clock or slightly to the right of high

noon on the steering wheel. Many jurisdictions do not require the wearing of a seatbelt while in reverse gear (B.C. included). It is a good idea to stop every so often to do another 360-degree check, especially if the driver has to back the vehicle for a significant distance.

Look as far back as possible and pick a target, which will make it easier to maintain perspective while moving slowly in reverse. It is a good idea to check the side view mirrors as well, while stopped or moving very slowly.

If someone is able to guide the driver, they should be positioned in such a way as to be easily seen by the driver in the left side view mirror of the vehicle which is travelling slowly in reverse.

Avoid backing up if possible. Reversing into a parking space is safer than backing out of a parking spot. Remember that parking lots are the most crash prone areas in every driving jurisdiction, and act accordingly.

Steve Wallace is a member of the College of Teachers and the owner of Joan Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island and in the Interior of B.C.


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