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Could backing into parking spaces keep drivers safer?

Do you know that annually, approximately 18,000 people get injured and another 300 die after being struck by drivers who are backing up? Many of these injuries and fatalities occur in parking lots and driveways.

As we discussed in a recent post, parking a vehicle can be much riskier than most drivers ever realize. But what if there were a safer way to park that didn't put others at such high risk?

Back it up, back it in

As it turns out, there is. The auto association AAA recommends that motorists "reverse into parking spaces whenever possible, except where prohibited by law or parking lot restrictions."

They're in good company, as both Ray Magliozzi of Car Talk and the author of Traffic, Tom Vanderbilt, agree. So why don't more drivers do this?

How are you at mental rotation?

Well, part of it has to do with poor spatial relations skills. If you struggled through geometry, use Rubik's cubes as multi-colored paperweights and the thought of assembling Ikea furniture sends you screaming into the streets rending your garments, you may be spatially challenged.

Those who have above average spatial relation skills utilize something called "mental rotation." That's a fancy way of saying they're able to imagine shapes in another position than their present location. While there are, of course, exceptions, to a certain degree the skill is gender-based, with men far outpacing women.

Technology is your friend

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandated that all new vehicles have rear-view cameras as of last year. Those motorists with newer cars have all the technology they need right there inside the car to insure that they can see just where they're going as they back up their automobiles.

But even those without back-up cameras can improve their skills with practice. Pick an empty lot with marked lanes and back up and pull forward until you feel like you've gotten the hang of it.

Were you injured by a driver who was backing up?

Accidents happen every day in parking lots, and if today was your unlucky day, you may need to take legal action to hold the motorist liable for their negligent actions behind the wheel.

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