Have you ever noticed how cautious you or others are when backing out of a parking space or driveway? You probably apply your brakes frequently when doing so.
You likely know why motorists do this. They are tentative in backing out because they know of the dangers that could be lurking behind them that they can’t clearly see. These might include pedestrians such as kids, individuals who use wheelchairs, or other vehicles and stationary objects.
While the installation of rear cameras has changed the game in terms of making it safer for some motorists to put their vehicles in reverse, not everyone has them, nor do they catch every angle. This bit of insight may leave you wondering if there’s anything motorists can do to make operating vehicles safer when driving in reverse. We’ll outline some tips that may make it safer to do so below.
How Common Are Back-up Accidents?
Motorists spend the majority of their time driving forward instead of in reverse. Despite this, approximately one-quarter of all crashes happen when motorists are driving in reverse.
National Safety Council data shows that 9% of pedestrian deaths in parking lots alone are attributable to reversing accidents. That number rises to double that amount when fleet drivers are involved. The most recent data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regarding backing up accidents states these incidents result in 15,000 injuries and 500 deaths annually.
Approximately one-quarter of all crashes happen when motorists are driving in reverse. That number rises to double that amount when fleet drivers are involved.
According to the child advocacy group Kids and Cars, at least 50 children end up being backed over every week because motorists fail to notice them. A parent or other close relative causes 70% of these incidents. An overwhelming majority of these crashes are preventable.
What Are Common Causes of Backing Accidents?
NHTSA data shows that 90% of driving in reverse accidents are attributable to one of the two following factors:
- A driver’s employment of improper backing procedures
- A motorist’s lack of awareness of potential hazards
Individuals who have been injured or lost loved ones to motorists who failed to exercise due diligence may have legal options. They can reach out to our Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC car accident attorneys for help in Jackson, MS.
The Role Blind Spots Play in Causing Backing Up Crashes
One common factor responsible for causing back-up crashes is blind spots. These can be front, side, or rear blind spots.
Three factors that impact how large a vehicle’s blind spot is (or appears) include:
- The vehicle’s size
- An automobile’s design
- Motorist height
According to Kids and Cars, at least 60% of backover accidents involve larger automobiles, including vans, trucks, and SUVs.
Motor vehicles such as 18-wheelers and garbage, delivery, and box trucks are large. NHTSA refers to their blind spot areas as “no-zones.” These areas can extend half the length if not more in front and behind the truck and also cover areas just short of its height on either side.
Even in the case of passenger vehicles like sports utility vehicles or pickup trucks, the blind spot in the rear of the vehicle can be up to 50 feet. Kids and Cars’ data shows that other passenger cars can have a blind zone between 15 and 25 feet. According to Kids and Cars, blind zones tend to be larger the shorter motorists are.
How Can Motorists Avoid Hitting Something When Driving in Reverse?
If you research steps you can take to avoid backing accidents, you’ll find the primary recommendation is to avoid putting yourself in a position where you have to drive in reverse at all or to simply pull through the spot. These options are sometimes impossible if lots or garages require motorists to park head-in or if parallel parking is the only option.
Some practical advice you might find more applicable in situations in which you have no other choice but to back up is:
- Step out of your vehicle and look around it: Some safety analysts refer to you needing to perform a “circle check,” which encompasses circling your vehicle to see if there are any potential hazards before placing your vehicle in reverse.
- Turn your head: Many motorists rely solely on their rearview mirrors when seeing if there’s anything around or if it’s safe to drive in reverse. Safety analysts warn this isn’t good enough. They note that motorists must ensure that they turn around in their seats to ensure that they don’t see anything behind them.
- Minimize distractions: Safety analysts warn that motorists should be careful to minimize any distractions when backing, whether from their smartphones, the radio, kids, conversations, or anything else.
- Appoint a guide or spotter: Motorists can benefit from having their passengers or another third party guide them as they pull out of a tight spot or one with limited surrounding visibility. This approach can help lend a second set of eyes to any potential hazards. It’s key that motorists stop their car immediately if they lose sight of their guides, though.
- Take backing up slowly: Motorists often back up so quickly that pedestrians see them with too little notice to take evasive action. Drivers who put their cars in reverse and let off the brake slowly have more control over their vehicles.
- Maintain a well-landscaped yard: Taking time to cut back trees, bushes, and other obstructions that may prevent your ability to see bicyclists, pedestrians, and other potential hazards can reduce your chances of striking them.
In terms of backover accidents, parents and family members can minimize the chances of young children getting stuck in these incidents by:
- Ensuring that their kids are always being closely monitored while outside
- Teaching them about being on the lookout for moving vehicles in driveways and when crossing the road
- Keeping toys out of the driveway
What Can You Do if a Negligent Motorist Backed Into You?
Accidents in which unobservant motorists back into others’ vehicles or individuals are far more common than they should be. One way to hold a motorist liable for their actions and hopefully discourage them from doing something similar again is by filing a personal injury claim against them.
Time is of the essence in situations like these. Not only does a statute of limitations apply to these cases, but more importantly, you need to preserve evidence.
Our attorneys at Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC clearly understand timelines and the steps you need to take in cases such as yours. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or lost their life in a backing-up accident, get in touch with us so we can discuss your legal matter right away.