By Wayne Smolda, CEO and Founder
Ask any driver what’s the riskiest highway maneuver, and you’re bound to get a whole host of answers: passing on a hill, driving fast on a dark road, running a red light, cutting through tight traffic to take a fast-approaching exit ramp.
But ask someone from the automotive insurance industry the same question, and here’s your answer: backing up. According to the National Non-Profit Risk Management Center, the most common business auto claim is generated by backing into something.
While rarely fatal, backing collisions are costly and needless, the latter because they’re almost always preventable. Have these “happened” to you? Backing out of a driveway into a parked car? Backing out in a parking lot and striking a boundary pole? Swiping the car beside you as you turn while backing from a parking space?
Driving in reverse is never easy. It’s uncomfortable to crane your neck from side to side and twist around to see out of the rear window. For the “vertically challenged,” headrests – even of the “open” variety – can be hard to see around. Tall vehicles, like minivans and SUVs, create deeper blind sports than shorter sedans, making it hard to see bicycles or little children.
So how can you reduce your risks when backing your vehicle?
Survey Your Situation. Before you get into your vehicle, look all around it to assess how much space you have to maneuver, where pedestrian or automotive traffic may come from, and for any obstacles you might fail to see once you’re in the car.
Keep Your Windows Clear. Beware of clothes on courtesy hangers limiting your side view or items on your rear deck, either blocking your line of sight or reflecting blinding light on your rear window.
Back Up Slowly. Controlling a car in reverse is inherently more difficult than going forward. Keep your speed under 3 mph.
Always Turn Around and Look Directly Back. Don’t just rely on your mirrors – even when they’re aimed properly so as to avoid blind spots, they offer a less than the 180-degree rear view you need when backing up.
Turn Only After Clearing Obstacles. Don’t start turning your wheel until you’re sure you will clear any surrounding objects, like other vehicles, signs or light poles.