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Monday, January 9, 2012

The Dangers of Driving in Reverse

Driving in reverse is one of those necessary driving maneuvers that can become dangerous for both new and experienced drivers alike. What makes it difficult is drivers have to look out through the rear window to check if they might hit something, while at the same time, taking the focus away from the front windshield. This usually means that they have to take one hand off the wheel and draping it over the passenger seat. Did I also mention that this involves looking away from the front of the vehicle? So, you'll need to learn to manage your blind spots too.

It is important to remember that when backing up, you have to accelerate slowly, as quick, sudden turns while reversing makes the vehicle jerk out of alignment. This adds the secondary issue: you have to consistently avert your attention from the back to the front of the vehicle, to check what's behind you, and what's oncoming. What most don't consider is: how about people with neck injuries or arthritis? The simple act of driving in reverse becomes an even more monumental task for them.

The following tips should help when driving in reverse:
  • Try avoiding backing up altogether. Try and find a spot where you could legally make a U-Turn instead. It is worth noting that backing up on an interstate or rural highway is against the law. It's better to go the next exit and come back rather than try correcting a missed turn.
  • Remove all distractions when backing up. Actually, remove distractions all the time while driving. Driving in reverse should already take up so much of your attention that another one that saps it isn't required, or actually, discouraged.
  • Make sure you know the dimensions of your vehicle. Will you be able to make that turn? Will it fit? These are questions with which the answers should be familiar to you. But there will be circumstances when you will be driving something other than your own vehicle, so the dimensions of a vehicle should be taken into account. This is the one thing that is most likely to make even experienced drivers make mistakes while driving in reverse.
  • Everything is more dangerous at night. When backing up at night, remember that drivers behind are only able to see your back-up and brake lights, which aren't as bright as headlights.
  • As part of regular vehicle maintenance, make sure your reverse, brake and head lights are all in proper working order. This is to ensure that other drivers are aware of your intentions while driving.
  • Before backing up, remember to check for children, or small unseen objects that may be in the way. They aren't really visible through the rear window.
  • In shopping malls or supermarket parking lots, back out of a parking space very slowly, as other cars may obstruct your view. Be especially aware of stray shopping carts that may be left there.

It's always best to avoid driving in reverse for prolonged periods because of the dangers attached to it. However, if you take the time to learn as much as you can about how you may do it safely, you will be doing it successfully and safely in no time.

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Posted by NSC - Traffic Safety at


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