How much time do you spend in your car circling to find somewhere to park? If you live in a crowded state, like California, where people tend to drive everywhere, it’s probably a lot of time.
Inevitably, once I find a spot, there are cars like me waiting, turn signals on, anxious to zip into any empty space to get on with whatever task, appointment or meeting has caused the need to fight for parking. Once the spot opens up in we head, nose first, squeezing in to a spot barely large enough for the car, let’s not even talk about the need to open a door to get out or unload anything or anyone that may be accompanying you from the car.
Once your tasks are completed and the time comes to leave the same perilous journey begins again in reverse. You are virtually stalked by drivers who, anxious to acquire your parking spot, creep along behind or beside you as you make the trek back to your car. God help you if you do not immediately load your car, get in and, as fast as possible, start and slam the car into reverse so that they are not caused any delay in getting their car into your spot. It’s amazing how much road rage you can encounter when you don’t move quickly enough in to or out of a parking space.
Sometimes, if I am not in my large SUV where I can see over everyone, or in my husband’s larger sedan with it’s myriad of cameras, it’s really hard for me to know that it’s safe to back out of a spot. If I am in my very small sports car and there is a large truck, SUV or other longer vehicle beside me, I am virtually blind when backing out. Other drivers can become quite impatient and nasty as I creep out to make sure that I don’t get hit by anyone and don’t hit pedestrians or any vehicle that may be darting by without looking for me.
Not surprisingly, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2001 and 2002 found that 14 percent of all damage claims involved crashes in parking lots. More seriously, there is a whole category of crashes, often fatal, tracked by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, called “backover crashes”: These typically occur in driveways and parking lots, often involve children, and happen most often to drivers of SUVs.
Considering all of that, it occurs to me that backing in to parking spots is a far safer way to park than head in. Apparently there are many reasons to consider backing into spots instead of parking head in:
- 1 in 7 vehicle accidents occur in parking lots
- There is a smaller field of vision when backing up
- If you are at work, or at home for that matter, and there is a need for emergency evacuation, it’s much quicker to get into your car and drive straight out. You can also see the faces of other drivers parked similarly and can wave to each other and maintain order.
- If your car won’t start it’s easier to get a jump when you are backed in
- If you back into your garage at home, there is far less likelihood of backing over a bicycle (or God forbid a child) in the driveway, because you have a larger field of vision through the windshield
In my own experience, I much prefer backing in:
- Spots are particularly narrow in a business parking structure – this way I can put the passenger side of my car closer to the passenger side of the car on my right so that I can give myself more room to exit my car and give the same to the driver of the car on my left. With any luck this will cut down on the risk of me getting a ding from the door of the car beside me.
- If there is a solid (especially concrete) wall that I will be parking against. My parking assist will help guide me close enough and, with the very narrow spaces and very large cars that generally park on either side of me, I will feel more secure pulling straight out of the spot.
- If there is no parking barrier in between two stacked spots. I will pull straight through to make exiting easier.
- If I am attending a sporting event, concert or other event where there will be a large crowd and traffic exiting at the same time, which could make backing out difficult.
Had my husband taken the time to back into his parking space, or even done a pull through to be facing forward in the spot in front of him, he could have avoided being hit by a FedEx truck which resulted in $19,000 worth of damage to our car. Even more distressing, had a friend backed into his driveway, he might have been able to see his child playing there and could’ve avoided backing over him. His son survived, but his injuries were severe and the incident was terrifying.
It’s worth the few minutes of time it takes to have the best view possible when you are leaving to assure your safety and that of others you might not even know are there.
It takes only a couple of seconds more and goes a long way to making everyone safer – especially by keeping you safer from those who aren’t paying attention! Hmmm
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