We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

The fine art of backing up like a pro

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, August 24th 2018

There’s more to backing up safely than just a simple shoulder check, Steve Wallace writes.


There are three reverse gear moves on the B.C. driving road test, and for good reason.
A parallel park, straight-line and a three-point turn are most likely included on the provincial driving road test.
Backing is a major cause of low-speed crashes.

The loss of life or serious injury while backing is possible, but not as common as in other crashes.

There is a significant threat to pedestrians when a driver decides to use reverse gear without the most elementary safety checks.
The potential for a mishap is exponentially more probable for several reasons.
Drivers should always do a 360-degree walk-around before leaving any front-facing parking stall.
Even with a back-up camera, there are blind spots.

It is best to back into a parking space than to drive forward into one.

A drivethrough parking space is always preferable, compared with a space that requires the use of reverse gear, whether backing in or out.

Every driver should give two taps of the horn before backing up.
It is the international method of warning others of an intention to reverse.
The 360-degree check must be done prior to the move.
If there is someone present to guide the driver, all the better.

The backing move should be done with one hand on the wheel.
This will allow for the other arm to be braced against the passenger seat, to allow for a torso rotation that will give the best visibility for reverse travel.
Always do an offside check before moving back.
Many drivers would rather park at the side of the road.
This parallel position has the advantage of the bumper taking any lumps, as opposed to the vehicle doors, which often happens in the all-tootreacherous mall parking lot.

The police are the best example of how to park properly.
Most people do not notice the obvious parking configuration at any police station or detachment.
All functional cruisers will be backed in or in a drive-through space. Those vehicles that need servicing, or which have been disabled, can be readily identified by their nose-in position in the parking lot.

There are many industrial areas that mandate a back-in policy.
This policy is responsible for up to a 30 per cent reduction in parking lot crashes.
Industry leaders often employ a driving-safety professional to help reduce the crash rate in their company.
As a young driving consultant, I was taught, by veteran advisers, to always address the parking configuration first.

It was good advice.

Several years ago, a logging truck driver invited me to ride for a day.
The driver never used reverse: For safety reasons, all the driving, loading and unloading was done without the use of reverse gear.
It did not matter whether we were at the scales, in the yard or at the loading dock, we were in neutral or forward gear.

Motorcycle riders make good vehicle drivers.
They very seldom, if ever, back up.
There is a tendency for them to do the same when they drive a motor vehicle.

Call it a case of carryover or force of habit, but they usually avoid reverse gear in their personal vehicles.

Beware backing up — it is much more involved and dangerous than it seems.






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