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Why Reverse Parking is Safer

Why Reverse Parking is Safer
Author: Jad Bucktowar, Bilingual Technical Services Engineer

Driver safety does not stop in the parking lot. In fact, drivers should be even more vigilant of their surroundings while operating their vehicle in a parking lot. Following parking safety strategies and reverse parking into your space could potentially save lives.

Parking Lot Accidents Are the Top Cause of Fleet Vehicle Damage

Research shows that parking lots are hazardous places. Parking lot accidents are the most common cause of fleet vehicle damage, according to PHH Arval research. Parking lot collisions represent a significant percent of total accidents. Recent numbers by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show that 20% of all vehicle accidents happen in parking lots.

Parking Safety Tips

The following strategies for safe parking have been compiled from industry sites and insurance providers.

  • Stay alert and scan the area. Use your mirrors or rear-view cameras.
  • Look for pedestrians.
  • Drive slow. Obey posted speed limits and signs.
  • Wear your seat belt.
  • When parking, keep distance between your vehicle and others.
  • Reverse park into the parking space.

Reverse Parking Could Save a Life

Parking in reverse is a simple way to reduce the risk of accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that “267 people are killed and 15,000 injured each year by drivers who back into them, usually in driveways or parking lots.” Unfortunately, most often it is children and elderly people who are killed in backover crashes.

NHTSA has ruled that all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds (including passenger vehicles, buses and trucks) must be equipped with rear visibility technology by May 2018.

By reverse parking, you avoid backing out blindly into oncoming traffic or into the path of pedestrians.

Car reverse parking into space safety

Misconceptions about Reverse Parking

Myth #1: Reverse parking disrupts traffic.
While reverse parking may disrupt traffic flow, it is arguable that backing out of a parking space also disrupts traffic and might be more dangerous.

Myth #2: Reverse parking is less safe.
Parking lots are full of pedestrians, and therefore the probability of injury is high. Reverse parking is about making the environment safer when the driver leaves the parking space. When reverse parking, a driver is going into a known space with no vehicle and pedestrian traffic. When leaving the parking space, the driver is able to see the surroundings more clearly.

On the other hand, backing out of a parking space means going out into unknown and changing traffic. A driver’s view is further hindered by the cars parked next to it. The other cars are directly in the driver’s blind spots.

How to Monitor Reverse Parking with Telematics

Many companies have now made it a point to incorporate reverse parking into their corporate culture policies. This not only improves driver safety but it can also improve their bottom line.

With telematics, companies can monitor whether their drivers are following set policies. In MyGeotab, fleet managers can set up a safety rule for backing up when leaving. The rule identifies drivers who back out their vehicles when leaving a location. It’s also possible to set up a notification for when the rule is broken, either by email, popup, beep warning, or text message.

Read more about preventing avoidable accidents with reverse detection.

Further Research on Parking and Backing Crashes

IIHS, Rear Crash Prevention Technology
It is inevitable that at some point you will need to back up in a tight parking lot where the risk of collision is quite high. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI) have conducted research to narrow down the top rear autobrake systems to mitigate this risk. To learn more, visit the IIHS site.

NHTSA, Backover Prevention Tips
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established a list of tips to prevent backover incidents involving children. Something as simple as walking around your vehicle and checking the area before backing up can save a child’s life. Read the full list of backover prevention tips here.

AAA, Safe Parking Strategies
AAA advises drivers to back into parking spots or pull-through, and not fully rely on rear-view or traffic alert technology in vehicles which have their limitations. AAA warns that reversing out a space is a risky behaviour as you are putting pedestrians at risk. Read the article at Automotive Fleet.


A fender-bender in a parking lot can cause a time and money lost in out-of-service vehicles, filing insurance claims, and repairing damages. It makes sense for companies to monitor parking closely to increase fleet safety and reduce fleet costs.

Distracted Driving Facts: Common Causes and Solutions

Mobile In Car Video System: The Next Step in Advanced Telematics

The Psychology of Driving

Originally published Oct. 26, 2016. Updated Apr. 27, 2018.


  • Posted September 16, 2019 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    This article is very informative. I now have implemented a Reverse Parking policy with my fleet here in Yuma. And corporate is now looking into this for all our vehicles state wide. I am also trying to get back up beepers installed. I have been told it is as easy as changing out a brake light. Plug and play if you will. If it saves one life it is worth it.

  • Posted July 16, 2019 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    My mom always has trouble when it comes to parking. I like that you said backing out of parking space makes traffic and could be dangerous. Thank you for explaining while parking the driver is going into a known space with no vehicle and when leaving the driver is able to see the surroundings more clearly. This will be of great use the next time my mom parks her car.

  • Posted January 5, 2019 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Literally every valet uses reverse parking because it’s safer. I’ve worked for 6 different valets including 2 on the Las Vegas strip and it’s the easiest way to park and the safest way to pull out.

  • Posted June 1, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I’ve never seen a study, but I would agree based on my own opinion. I drive a full size truck, and find it much easier to be able to back into a spot, which gives the added bonus of pulling forward when I leave. All around a better way to go for me. I find myself doing the same thing in my wife’s small car. With the advent of back-up cameras in most modern vehicles, this is very easily done. Also, her back window is covered in parking decals, so the camera is really a must!

  • Posted April 13, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I learned to do it in the military “combat parking” but found it more practical and safer at church. People arrive at different times but pretty much leave at the same time at the end of the service so when pulling out I see what is in front of me rather than, heaven forbid, I back out over a child!

    • Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Hi Dan,
      Happy to hear you are taking on the safety tips. Let’s make driving safer and more enjoyable.

  • Posted February 27, 2018 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    The claim is made here that “reverse parking is safer” but the article gives no references for this, it is merely someone’s opinion. Also, if this is a study then was the study done in a shopping center car park where presumably there is a near constant churn of parking or in an office car park where there is a peak early morning parking period? I fail to see how reverse parking in an office car park makes it safer- there’s aggravation caused by people waiting to get in by people having 3 or 4 attempts at parking and reverse parked vehicles tend to speed out of a car parking space. Also the reversing at peak parking periods occurs when there are lots of people parking at the same time near each other so it is arguably safer to forward park so that you can see your colleagues getting out of their cars.

    • Posted April 20, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Hi Dan,
      There are some reports from a few reputable organisations that have done much more extensive research on accidents in the parking lot and reverse parking. This article is merely a suggestion on some safety practices. If we agree that reverse parking is safer, then a few more seconds in the parking lot is a good trade-off.

  • Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    Reverse parking takes longer commonly multiple attempts are needed to get straight holing up traffic and causing waiting cars to squeeze by just as you go forward once more to line up. When shopping the boot is now at the wrong end so many shoppers force the trolley down narrower gaps and scrape cars then run off as if it’s not their fault.

    • Posted February 6, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Practice makes perfect. On a personal level, after many months of reverse parking I can now reverse park in one go. Most driving schools will teach new drivers how to reverse park. Keep the habit and improve on the skills.
      The boot being at the wrong end is indeed problematic. However, some parking spaces will have walkways to help shoppers. Besides, it can be argued that having shopping carts in the driveway is also unsafe.
      Safety habits cannot be imposed, however if one person follows it, it makes driving that little bit safer and more enjoyable.

  • Posted January 12, 2018 at 1:39 am | Permalink

    I own a condo and the management and the board actually changed the rules and regs so you can’t park in reverse. They think that more exhaust goes towards the building if you think about it for about 5 seconds they would realize that if the wind is blowing towards the building it does not matter which way you park if the wind is blowing away from the building it still does not matter can we get some common sense please

    • Posted February 6, 2018 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      ​That is an interesting anecdote, Richard! Let’s hope that does not deter people from following safety practices. Let’s make driving safer and more enjoyable!

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