It is a tragic story that appears regularly in newspapers across the nation. Often it takes up no more than a few column centimetres, and while the names are different the story still remains the same – a child has been killed or injured after being run over by a car reversing out of the family driveway. Tragically, in most of these cases, an adult member of the child's family, a neighbour, or a visitor to the house was driving the vehicle.
Reversing out of a car park or driveway can be a difficult manoeuvre for motorists to perform. The rear vision is often limited by the vehicle structure, and other visual obstructions such as trees, fences, and utility poles can make this task all that more difficult. But it need not be dangerous.
A campaign is been launched in Co Mayo to raise awareness around reverse parking, asking all major employers to promote a ‘reverse in drive out’ policy and all motorists to do likewise in car parks and driveways. If a person gets into the habit of reverse parking at work he/she will also continue this practice at home and elsewhere.
In Ireland, a recent analysis of fatal accident statistics showed that reversing activities were involved in 11 per cent of all fatal workplace transport accidents.
The number of people killed on Irish roads in reversing accidents 2007/2011 was seven and there were 348 injuries in that period.
Noel Gibbons, road safety officer, told the Mayo Advertiser that reverse-in parking improves the driver's view when pulling out of parking spaces.
"It's safer for passengers as they face the footpath when getting out of a car. It's also easier to access a car boot from the footpath rather than standing in the road."And it greatly reduces conflict with cyclists."
Why is it more dangerous to reverse than drive forward? The answer to that is very simple. We can see better when looking forward than when looking backwards. We can also control our vehicle better when driving forward.
Modern cars are designed to have fantastic forward vision, but they also have large blind spots when we try to look to the rear.
These blind spots make it difficult to see other vehicles, particularly when reversing out from parking lots.
Reverse parking is always recommended when the car park is designed to allow it.
Minimize reversing — When looking to park your vehicle look for a position that will enable you to drive forward rather than reverse. “Drive in – Drive out” parking is not always easy to find, but use it when you can.
Reverse parking — If you cannot park “drive in – drive out” then look for a parking position where you can safely reverse park. Reversing into a controlled parking space is far safer than reversing out into flowing traffic. Leaving the parking space is much easier and safer too.
Complete a “head check” before moving: A quick look to both sides of the car to check for hazards will eliminate the “where did that come from” situation. Do this before starting to reverse. If there are pedestrians near your vehicle, warn them by using the horn.
Reverse slowly and use your mirrors: Using the mirrors on both sides of the vehicle when reversing takes some practice, so practice in an empty area first. Using your mirrors gives you a very good guide to where the edges of your vehicle are and where the obstacles/hazards are. This will help avoid the small bumps. The centre mirror will help you to align the car correctly.