Always keep sight of the vehicle’s surroundings
Backing up is not one of the easiest driving maneuvers. Smaller and smaller windows, wider passenger compartment pillars, poor visibility, or problems when turning around can all make it difficult for drivers to maintain their rear view. In addition to rear-view mirrors, modern vehicles are generally equipped with electronic systems such as vehicle backup cameras or parking sensors with acoustic warnings. However, this still does not eliminate all hazards that arise during backing up.
“The situation to a vehicle’s rear can change in the matter of a second. For instance, when a pedestrian quickly approaches from side on, even a system that responds quickly will not be able to shorten the driver’s reaction time,” explains Thomas Gut, an accident analyst at DEKRA. He states that it is therefore not sufficient to simply quickly check the vehicle backup camera on the display or trust the parking sensor when backing up.
“Maintain a good view of your vehicle’s surroundings and make sure that you can back up without putting others in danger by taking additional steps like looking over your shoulder – ideally twice,” the accident expert recommends. If possible, drivers should look around before getting in their vehicle and scan their surroundings for anything that could become a danger. “Check, too, whether there may be a traffic mirror – this will make it easier to get a proper picture of what is happening on the road,” says Gut. At parking lots, for example, people frequently walk behind vehicles. And close to schools, kindergartens, or sports facilities, drivers will always need to keep an eye out for children, who are easier to miss due to their height.
It can be useful to back straight up into a parking space. This tends not to be preferred in underground parking garages, but it can sometimes make it easier to keep track of what is going on in outdoor parking lots. Another important rule of thumb is to never back up at speed – instead, always proceed carefully and cautiously.