3/10/2015 11:00 AM

Dangers of Backing Up

If you ever ride in the car with me or my parents, you might think we park a bit strange. Most drivers try to park as close to the building as possible. Sometimes the battle drivers have for a close parking space, circling in the parking lot, reminds me of vultures spotting prey.

While my family used to participate in this activity, we tend to do the opposite now. My personal preference at a busy store is to park far away, where parking spaces are not in high demand. A spot is even better if I can pull through, so my car is facing out, making it simple and easy to just pull forward out of the space.

It’s a lot easier to see what’s in front of you than trying to look behind.

A longer walk and better visibility are both beneficial to health. But what else has motivated us to avoid the busier parking area by the front of the store? To put it simply: auto insurance claims.

Many of you know my dad, Don Killingbeck. He’s been working at Killingbeck Insurance for most of his life, and definitely all of mine. I heard plenty of stories of parking and driving accidents (I think my Dad gave special favoritism to gory stories involving motorcycles to keep me away from them). However, it wasn’t until I joined Killingbeck Insurance that I changed my parking habits.

It’s amazing what perspective you have when you hear auto claims taken daily. Particularly when you know about 25% of claims happen when backing up.

A backing up claim also isn’t as simple as you may think. Many people assume that if they cannot see the other person, they aren’t at fault. They also assume that if they are backing up and the other person appears to speed into the isle and hit them, they’re not at fault. From what I can tell, people tend to assume their not at fault and don’t really know how complicated fault and claims can become.

Recently I heard a claim taken where two parties backed into each other in a parking lot, each assuming the other was at fault. The automobile insurance companies decided they were both at fault. This means the claim went through their own insurance to repair their vehicles.

Obviously it is not always possible to avoid backing up, especially when you park in a garage or driveway with only one entrance. When you must back up, just be sure to be careful.

Here are some tips to help with backing up your vehicle:

  • Know your car’s blind spots.
  • Think ahead and choose parking spots or situations where you don’t have to back up.
  • Look around before you get in the car. In an unfamiliar area walk around the car to check for potential hazards like fences, poles, or other people approaching.
  • Back up slowly.
  • In a hard to see or tricky area, have one of your passengers act as a spotter outside the car.
  • Keep distractions at bay – turn off the radio and ignore your phone.
  • Never implicitly trust a backup camera.

While new technology in a vehicle may be exciting, still use common sense and don’t trust it completely. Backup cameras are a great feature, but they are not perfect and can have blind spots of their own.

A few months ago I took an auto insurance claim involving a backup camera. She was backing out of her garage and tried to use just the backup camera. She ended up causing damage to her vehicle on an object she couldn’t see. She asked me to warn everyone else never to just trust the backup camera.

She has a good point. We can’t let new technologies make us forget to do our job of being safe and careful drivers. Technology can malfunction at any time, and an avoidable claim can suddenly become an at fault accident.

Remember, no matter how sophisticated the tools, it is the operator's responsibility to avoid danger at all times.



Photo:  “backing up” by ..Russ.. 11 Sept. 2014. Flikr. CC BY-SA 2.0

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