If you had to guess, would you know what the most dangerous driving maneuver would be? The answer is “backing up”. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 25 percent of all car accidents occur when a driver is backing up. The most popular places for this to occur are driveways and parking lots. The NSC estimates that backing accidents result in over 15,000 injuries and 500 deaths annually.
The type of accidents that occur when backing up can be almost too tragic to bear. We’ve all heard stories of parents backing up over their children when backing their car out of their driveway. Unfortunately, children are the most common victims of backup accidents. An estimated 50 children are hit or run over ever week by the people who love them or know them: parents, grandparents and neighbors.
How to avoid backing up accidents
There are several things you can do to avoid backing up accidents. They include the following.
- Learn your vehicle’s blind spots. Put a 2’-tall object behind your vehicle, and keep moving it back until you can see the object in your rearview mirror. This indicates how far back a small child must be in order for you to see him or her. It’s often further than 10 feet behind your vehicle. Know that in a larger vehicle, like a pick-up or SUV, it can be much further back. Don’t rely on your mirrors alone for a complete view of what’s behind you.
- Improve your backing up visibility. Don’t drive with cracked or dirty windows. Position all of your mirrors so that you have maximum visibility. Remove any obstacle that prevent you from being able to completely see out of the back window.
- Walk around your vehicle before getting in the car. By doing this you can see if there are any children or obstacles behind your vehicle.
- Practice and improve your backing up skills. Some people are just plain lousy at driving in reverse and backing up. If you’re one of them, practice, practice, practice. There is always room for improvement. Don’t just use your rearview mirror. Learn how to use your side mirrors as well.
- Be very careful in parking lots. Parking lots are places where fender benders or injuries can occur. Don’t even start to back up your vehicle until you check to make sure there are no shopping carts, other cars, or people behind you. Parking lots are like the Wild West, so use the utmost caution when backing out of your parking spot.
- Educate your children. Teach them not to play behind parked vehicles and to not leave their bicycles or toys in the driveway. Explain backing safety by supervising young children as someone else is backing out of your driveway or parking space.
- Install a rearview safety camera in your vehicle. Many new models come with safety cameras already installed, but if you don’t have one, considering purchasing one.
If you follow these safety tips, the chances of causing an accident will be greatly diminished.
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