What driving activity occupies less than 1% of a driver’s time behind the wheel, but year after year produces approximately 25% of all accidents? If you answered backing up, you’re right. Accidents while backing up can be prevented by following a few simple rules:
- Make a plan so backing up is not necessary.
- When stopped behind a vehicle, leave an adequate space cushion between you and the vehicle ahead so you don’t have to back up to get around it. A good rule of thumb is to stop far enough back so you can see the rear tires of the car in front of you hitting the pavement.
- When parking in lots where there is a double row, pull through to the row ahead so you can leave without backing up.
- Consider parking along the perimeter of a lot and backing into a space. This way, you typically back in towards landscaping as opposed to another vehicle.
- Perform a circle check. Back-up cameras are helpful, but you should still get in the habit of walking completely around a vehicle before backing up to alert you of any limitations or hazards. If you’re good to go, back up as soon as you can before the situation changes.
- Get to know your vehicle’s blind spots. Remember that mirrors never give you the whole picture, so turn your head while backing up.
- Use a spotter. Don’t be afraid to ask for someone’s help if needed to back up safely. Use hand signals and make sure spotter is standing in a safe area that you can easily see in the driver’s side mirror.
- Back up slowly and cover your brake to stop quickly, if necessary.
This may sound like a lot to do, but it will take much less time than filling out accident reports and answering questions following even small contact with another vehicle, structure, or person.
MAKE IT A HABIT: Look before you back up. Every time!