Defensive Driving - Prevent Backing Accidents
The most common type of vehicle accident occurs when drivers are backing out. There are probably several reasons for this. One may be due to limited vision out of the back window or around long truck beds and equipment bodies. Another may be that drivers fail to use their typical precautions because the vehicle is being operated at low speed. And many backing accidents occur because drivers rely too heavily on their mirrors. Even with the best of mirrors there are still blind spots on the sides and, especially, at the back of the vehicle.
Try following these guidelines to reduce your risk of getting into a vehicle accident while backing up.
- Avoid having to back up. Park so you can move forward when starting.
- Park in a location away from moving traffic or other parked vehicles so you avoid difficult maneuvering conditions or set yourself up for a collision.
- Before you back your vehicle, walk all the way around it to check underneath and at the sides and back for obstructions or other dangers. Ensure there is plenty of clearance around the vehicle to back safely.
- Before you move, turn your head to the left and right to look directly out the side and back windows of your vehicle. If you can't look directly out the windows, use your side and rear-view mirrors to look in all directions.
- If you see pedestrians or vehicles approaching, judge their speed and distance before backing. If there is any doubt, let them pass before moving.
- If your vehicle has a backup alarm, make sure it is working properly. If it does not have an alarm but conditions warrant that you warn others that you are backing, put on your flashers and tap your horn with quick beeps.
- Watch your side clearances on both sides and then back out slowly.
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Using a spotter
Sometimes a spotter can assist you with backing by watching the rear of the vehicle. If possible, have the spotter remain in the vehicle. If the spotter must be outside the vehicle, the law requires the person must be stationed where they can see the rear of the vehicle and be seen by the driver. Make sure you can see each other at all times in the side-view mirrors. Stop immediately if you lose sight of your spotter!
If you act as a spotter never assume that the driver can see you or knows where you are going. Use hand signals or radios to keep in constant communication. Do not walk alongside or ride outside a backing vehicle.