When driving, it is crucial to be alert to your surroundings, such as traffic patterns ahead of you, the condition of the roads—and what’s going on behind you. Checking your mirrors or looking over your shoulder are often necessary parts of safe driving, but they can also pose a risk in many situations.
Driving in reverse is especially dangerous since it involves trying to see what is behind you with limited visibility. It is also not practiced as much as driving forward, which is part of the reason why between 20 and 30% of all vehicle accidents each year involves someone backing up.
There are a number of safety measures you can take when driving in reverse. The best way to minimize the danger is to avoid driving in reverse, either by making a U-turn or driving around the block. Other ways to keep yourself and others safe are:
- Be familiar with your vehicle: Knowing the size and dimensions of your vehicle is crucial to safe backing. Make sure you have a strong feel for where the back end of your vehicle is.
- Avoid distractions: Don’t use the phone or engage in other activities while backing up. All of your attention should be focused on driving, especially when going backwards.
- Go slow: Do not rush. Your view may be obstructed by other vehicles, blind spots, buildings, and other elements of your surroundings. It can also be hard to see anything—or anyone—directly behind your car, so going slow can give you and others time to recognize warning signs.
- Check your lights: Your brake and rearview lights should all be in working order to let other drivers know when you are backing up.
- Be extra careful when visibility is low: At night or in inclement weather, your already poor rearward visibility is reduced further, so take extra care when backing. Remember also that you are less visible to other drivers.
Adjusting Your Mirrors
In addition to the above measures, keeping your mirrors properly adjusted is also crucial to rearview safety. You should have all rearview mirrors adjusted to eliminate blind spots.
- The inside mirror should let you see your entire back window without moving your head.
- For the right mirror, you should barely see the side of the car when your head is up against the window.
- For the left-hand mirror, lean out over the center of the console. Adjust the mirror so you only barely see the side of the vehicle.
Keeping your mirrors adjusted is not only important to safe backing, but also to driving in general.
Going Forward, Looking Back
A blind spot while driving can be deadly, especially on the highway or in high-traffic areas. When passing, changing lanes, and making turns, you need to know what is going on behind you as well as in front. Often, this divides your attention and may even lead to you missing something ahead of you.
This is where Safe Drive Systems technology comes in. Our RD-140 scans the road ahead of you and gives you the advance warning you need when dividing your attention between forward and backward traffic. For more on this technology, contact SDS today.