Drivers asked to reverse common parking habit

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 29, 2015

 To make backing into a parking space safer, AAA recommends checking all directions in order to spot pedestrians, other cars and obstacles.

To make backing into a parking space safer, AAA recommends checking all directions in order to spot pedestrians, other cars and obstacles.

Dean Bertoncelj/Shutterstock

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AAA Michigan has some advice for drivers to keep in the back of their minds when deciding how and where to park.

The auto association is now saying that motorists should back into parking spaces because it is safer for them and others when it is time to leave. According to AAA, parking lot accidents make up around 14 percent of crashes that end up with a claim.

A recent survey also showed that the most common way to park among 76 percent of American drivers is to pull forward into a parking space. AAA Michigan Public Affairs Director Susan Hiltz described the habit as apparently being a national tradition.

“In the United States, most people go in front-end,” she said. “What we find in other countries, drivers in other countries back in. 

“(Backing in) is just a new way of thinking when it comes to parking now, and it will hopefully help decrease accidents.”

Hiltz said backing out while exiting a parking space can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially if the vehicle is sandwiched between two larger ones. 

Even the proliferation of new technologies and rear-end cameras isn’t a perfect solution. AAA said in a press release that its own tests of several rear cross-traffic alert systems found that they at least sometimes failed to detect pedestrians or other vehicles.

To make backing into a parking space safer, AAA recommends checking all directions in order to spot pedestrians, other cars and obstacles. The association also recommends parking in areas that aren’t packed with other parked vehicles and that aren’t near a building’s entrance. 

Hiltz said a car that is backing into a space should first turn on a blinker to let other drivers know that it is planning to park.

In parking lots where rows of parking spaces are doubled up, she explained that sometimes it’s possible to pull into and through a parking space so that the vehicle still faces into traffic when it’s parked on the other side. 

But for that to be safe, drivers must make sure that no one else is planning to enter that spot, she said.

“People tend to pull in and out of parking spots,” she said.  “It’s just important to slow down. You’re going from street driving to a parking lot.  You’ve got people walking around. It’s just best to be as cautious as you can.”

Shellie Simmons, co-owner of Alpine Driving School in Southfield, said teens who take driving instruction classes in order to pass a road test have to learn the proper technique for backing into a parking spot. 

“If they follow the instructions, they get it, and we advise them to continue practicing it,” Simmons said.

Learn more about AAA Michigan by visiting www.michigan.aaa.com. Find out more about Alpine Driving School in Southfield by visiting www.alpinedrivingschoolinc.com or by calling (248) 663-2297.

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