Backing out of a driveway or local grocery store parking space can be hazardous to a person’s health. In a hurry, drivers all over the country are hitting shopping carts, or worse, neighborhood children in a rush to quickly get to where they are going next. Avoiding back-up collisions can be achieved by following some simple steps and practicing defensive driving.
To avoid a collision from exiting a driveway, follow these steps:
1. Before getting into the vehicle, scan the driveway and neighboring yards for children, animals, and stray objects such as abandoned bicycles or overturned trash cans. Check to make sure that there isn’t another family car parked on a different side of the driveway than it was the day before.
2. Enter the vehicle by walking around the back to the drivers seat, to ensure that there are no children or pets hiding behind the immediate back of the car. If there are children outside playing, ask them to wait out in front of the vehicle in plain view as the car backs out.
3. Before releasing the parking break, adjust all mirrors so there is a clear view of the street behind the car.
4. Put the car in reverse, looking out the back window while backing up. It is always best to back up while looking over the drivers seat, rather than relying on just rear view mirrors alone. Traffic coming from both directions will be more accurately observed in this manner.
Avoiding back-up collisions in parking lots can be achieved by carefully observing the actions of other people in the lot. Before getting into the car, take note of any other cars in the vicinity getting ready to back out. People may be just finishing loading their car with groceries, or back-up lights may be on neighboring vehicles. There may be a car already waiting for a parking spot, and hovering a little too close for comfort. Take note of these things before proceeding with a cautious exit from the parking space.
Defensive driving is the practice of observing the actions of other vehicles to make sure they are not about to make any costly mistakes. This means never trusting that the vehicle in the intersection is actually going to stop at the red light, or the person signaling to turn left is really going to turn left. It also means never trusting that people in parking lots will wait patiently or not drive recklessly.
While backing up any vehicle, stop every few feet to double check that there are no cars or people walking behind the car. As someone who once backed into a pizza delivery car, a word of advice: always check BOTH rear view mirrors before placing the foot on the gas pedal. It only takes a few feet for a car to be hit or a person to be injured.
In some cases, as is the case with parallel parking or backing out of a tight space, avoiding back-up collisions can be tricky. The same steps used to back out of a driveway can be used, but at a slower pace. Another option is to equip the car with a backup sensor. Many vehicles have a sensor that can detect objects behind them, alerting the driver when the back of the car is within a certain distance from an object. Although back up sensors can be purchased for just about any vehicle, they should never be relied upon exclusively because sometimes the warning comes too late for speed to be reduced enough to avoid a collision.
Some high end vehicles have a rear view camera to eliminate blind spots for the driver. Although a handy feature, and a comforting one for the parent, a rear view camera shouldn’t be relied on alone because they do not give a good perspective on traffic or persons coming from either direction. Sensors and cameras are wonderful tools to utilize, but nothing will prevent a back-up collision like some common sense and defensive driving.