We have a saying here at the office, and you might have heard it before: parked cars don’t have accidents. If you back into a parked car, it’s your fault and yours alone (not to mention, it’s embarrassing). Backing accidents are some of the most common that occur. The kicker? They’re the most easily preventable.
While backing accidents are rarely severe, there’s always that small chance it could be serious. What if you hit another car, or worse, a pedestrian or a cyclist? The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that a backing accident can cost $7,000. Moreover, backing accidents cause 500 deaths and 15,000 injuries every year. An everyday, simple task such as backing can have huge consequences if not taken seriously.
Backing is one of the most common causes of accidents, yet there are simple methods that drastically reduce the chance of a collision. Read over the tricks and tips listed below. They can help ensure that you won’t have a backing accident.
- Get Out And Look (G.O.A.L.)– checking around your vehicle before backing is the most sure-fired way of avoiding an accident. Look for pedestrians, road hazards, and any objects you can’t see in your mirrors. When you reenter your vehicle, back as soon as possible to ensure that the environment has not changed.
- Plan Ahead – whenever possible, just avoid it. If you don’t back, you won’t have a backing accident. Pick “pull-through” spots in parking lots and parallel-park in the most wide-open area of a street, even if it means walking a little further. This way, you can avoid situations that call for backing.
- Park Defensively – avoid parking in areas heavily crowded by other parked vehicles and park in the center of a spot to leave a safety cushion around your vehicle. The less vehicles and traffic around your car, the less of a chance you have of having an accident.
- Know your vehicle – understand your vehicle’s clearances and blind spots. Then, use G.O.A.L. when taking your vehicle’s limitations into account.
- Use a Spotter – a spotter can help you navigate out of a tight spot. It is best to use hand signals with your spotter rather than verbal communication. It’s important to decide on what hand signals to use prior to backing.
- Practice, practice, practice! – no amount of forward driving can help with your backing skills. Take time to familiarize yourself with how the vehicle you drive backs.
Many of us fall into bad habits with backing. When you pull-out of your driveway every morning, you’re probably performing the same bad behaviors without even realizing. You hop in, buckle up, and back up without really even looking. We fall into these bad habits because they make our lives easier. And, if they haven’t caused a problem or an accident, why stop? Well, the 300:29:1 theory states that we’re playing with fire. Eventually, a bad behavior will lead to a major accident.
You can start good behaviors just as easily as you started the bad ones. Make a habit out of safe backing with this check-list:
- Do you know all of your vehicle’s blind spots?
- Are your mirrors adjusted properly?
- Are your mirrors clean, allowing for highest possible visibility?
- Is your window rolled down? Hearing your environment is just as important as seeing your environment.
- Lastly, Get Out And Look (G.O.A.L.). It is essential to do this last because the longer you take to back after you complete G.O.A.L., the more likely the environment is to change.