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Backing Up

The daily newspapers almost never lack for tragic stories of fatalities or injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents. What is seldom reported, because they are so common, are the huge numbers of low speed “fender-benders” that occur in the streets, parking lots and parkades as motorists back in and out of parking spaces. These are annoying, costly in terms of car repairs and sometimes cause serious injuries when pedestrians are struck or crushed.

How to back up

When reversing, a motorist must constantly look back and be prepared for a sudden stop. Reversing may involve actually shifting your body around to enable you to see straight out the back more clearly. At the same time the motorist needs to be controlling the steering wheel and the accelerator or brake as expertly as when the body is not contorted around. At the very least, backing up may involve checking all mirrors, that is, the centre and the side mirrors for any signs of a potential problem. Only where a driver knows for certain that the path directly behind the vehicle is clear, is shifting to look fully around not necessary.
Two cars backing up
The ICBC Road Sense for Driver Guide advises that before a driver backs up, the driver should do a 360-degree vision check. This means checking all around the vehicle by using shoulder checks, mirror checks and turning the body to look out the back window. And they offer the following tip: If visibility is limited in any way, tap the horn as a quick warning before backing up… just in case. In fact, the law requires a driver to sound an audible warning in this sort of situation.

When we are in a rush

Often people have just finished shopping and need to be home by a certain fast-approaching hour. They are rushing. Once back in the car and ready to pull out of a parking space, will they take the time to: check all the mirrors, turn completely around by turning the body to see what is happening directly behind the car, and then slowly back out of the parking spot? No. Many people, it seems, just back out and hope for the best. The lesson is, when driving through a parking lot assume that someone is about to back into you, and have the horn ready.
Trucks, vans and SUV’s are particularly bad for backing up, because of vision restriction problems. Some mechanical and electronic solutions have been developed. Mirror that look directly down behind a vehicle like a periscope have appeared on one or two SUV models. Gaining popularity is rear bumper “radar”, probably one of the best solutions to backing up accident. When the radar detects a threat, the driver is notified by a suitable audible warning. With commercial vehicles, a long-standing and successful innovation has been the warning horn that activates whenever the vehicle is moving in reverse. Sometimes annoying, but always effective in letting everyone know that the “big-rig” is moving backwards.
No doubt the technical solutions to address the dangers of backing up, will continue to evolve. Nevertheless, backing up is a movement that will always have be made with the greatest of care. Please Drive Safely.

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