Backing Up Can Bust You Up

Driving a car backwards is a practiced skill!

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2008 to 2011, an average of 41% of non-occupant traffic injuries were caused by a car backing up into someone.
  • The use of safe vehicle backing tips by employers and employees can help prevent accidents while on the job.

What do you do when backing up, to make sure you don’t hit something?

How do you improve your skill at backing up a vehicle?

Here are some tips!


Regain Control of Your Car

  • Have you ever had a close call, a time when your vehicle was out of control?
  • What did you do to regain control?

Here are some techniques for regaining control of your vehicle in different situations.

  1. What to do in inclement weather. In these conditions the best thing you can do is slow down. This may reduce the chance of losing control of the car.
  2. What to do if you lose control. If loss of control occurs due to a flat tire, a patch of wet leaves, gravel roads, oil, snow and ice or some other hazard: remain calm no matter what. Panicking won’t help.
  • Look where you WANT to go, and point the wheels in that direction.
  • Don’t slam on the brakes, but ease up on the gas pedal. If the car has anti-lock brakes, apply firm pressure to slow the vehicle instead of pumping the brake pedal.
  • To avoid skids, brake before a curve, not during it.
  • Try to brake while in a straight line and coast through the curve. If a gas pedal sticks, shift to neutral and apply the brakes.

What You Need to Know About Intersections

There are so many different types of intersections, it can be hard to remember the rules for using them!

Here’s a list of tips for each type.

  • Two-Way Intersection: Check both ways when arriving at the intersection. Pedestrians, emergency vehicles or impaired drivers may be traveling the wrong way.
  • T-Intersection: The major road, or the top of the “T” of the intersection, has right-of-way generally, but it is important to watch for any vehicles as you enter traffic.
  • Y-Intersection: When three roads meet, you may have a lot of traffic crossing lanes and merging. Slow down, scan and give right-of-way to those who are not crossing lanes of traffic.
  • Four-Way Intersection without signals (or when signals aren’t working): The first driver who arrives gets to go first. If you “tie” with someone, it is safest to yield to the driver on your right. Be careful—not everyone follows these guidelines.
  • Roundabouts: Roundabouts occur when multiple streets meet and, instead of crossing, form a circular lane of traffic. You should slow down, watch for new cars entering the flow of traffic and know where you are going before entering the roundabout. Those already in the roundabout have the right-of-way. Do not stop or pass other vehicles. Use signals when entering or exiting. And if you miss your turn, go around the circle and try again.

Out of the Way of Trains

One modern train engineer recently stated, “There are two types of train engineers—those who have hit someone on the tracks—and those who will.”

Why would he say that? Think about it for a moment, and put yourself in his place.

Here’s why:

  • Train engineers know the extreme distance it takes to bring a hulking moving train to a complete stop.
  • A train going 50 miles per hour needs a mile and a half to stop.
  • With that knowledge, engineers know they cannot do anything to prevent a crash in many cases.
  • In a collision with a train, you are 40 times more likely to be killed than if you were in a collision with another car.

Remember these tips while driving near railroad crossings:

  • Reduce speed when approaching crossings and look both ways.
  • Turn down your stereo and listen for a train.
  • If red lights are flashing or if crossing arms have been lowered, stop.
  • Never stop on the tracks.
  • Be sure ALL tracks are clear before crossing—there may be more than one set of tracks.

Big Truck Basics

If you like to see store shelves full of all the things you need, then you should be grateful for all of the big trucks on the road who deliver all the stuff we like to have!

  • Do you know how to drive safely around large trucks?
  • What do you do now when you see a large truck in the next lane, in front of you, or behind you?

Observe the following safety tips for driving near large trucks.

  • Pass Safely – Never cut in front of a truck. After you pass, make sure the entire truck appears in your rearview mirror before returning to the lane. Always leave at least four car lengths between the back of your car and the front of any large truck you pass.
  • Stay out of the “No Zone” – “No Zones” are the danger areas around large trucks in which crashes are more likely to occur. Because of a truck’s size, there are four large blind spots where cars disappear from the driver’s view.
  • Avoid Tailgating -A severe collision can result when a car hits the rear end of a truck. Large trucks and the trailers they pull do not have impact-absorbing bumpers. Additionally, the truck’s metal bumpers may not align with those of your car.
  • Leave 20-25 car lengths between your vehicle and a truck to provide the space needed to stop safely during an emergency or traffic slow down.
  • Stay Away from the Truck Driver’s Blind Spots – Following a truck too closely obscures your view of the road in front of you. If you can’t see the driver in the truck’s side mirror, the driver can’t see you or your vehicle.

Emergency Vehicles

Emergency personnel risk their lives every day to help people in a time of need. Drivers need to pay attention and respond properly when emergency vehicles approach.

  • Describe what you currently do when this happens to you.

What is the proper protocol when you are driving and an emergency vehicle is approaching?


  • FIRST, never drive with earphones on or music playing too loudly. You need to be able to hear emergency vehicles approach and also hear audio cues from other vehicles.
  • If you see emergency lights or hear a siren, analyze if it’s safer to pull over or stay where you are.
  • If the emergency vehicle is behind or ahead—and the way is clear—pull over as far as you can to the right side of the road and come to a stop. Use your turn signal to indicate where you’re moving, and keep a foot on the brake to let emergency vehicle drivers know you have stopped.
  • If you are in an intersection when the emergency vehicle approaches, wait to see if the emergency vehicle needs to turn at the intersection. If the vehicle is not turning, continue through intersection and then pull over as soon as you can when it is safe to do so. Use your turn signal to indicate where you’re moving, and keep a foot on the brake to let emergency vehicle drivers know you have stopped.
  • On a highway where cars are going 55-70 miles an hour, get as far over as possible and slow down to the minimum speed.

Slow and Fast Lanes


The posted speed limit is a law that applies to all traffic lanes. Technically speaking, there is no “fast lane” or “slow lane”.

Answer: TRUE

  • In at least 29 states, slower traffic is expected to keep right (and many drivers treat this as an “unwritten rule” of the road), except for emergency vehicles, which are permitted to exceed the posted speed limit when their lights and sirens are on.
  • Speeding is a contributing factor in nearly 28% of all fatal crashes.
  • The probability of death, disfigurement, or debilitating injury grows with higher speed at impact. That’s because your body is traveling at the same speed as the car, even though it feels like you are just sitting still. At the time of a sudden stop or impact, your car stops traveling but your body doesn’t.

You are Not an Owl (Backing Up Basics)

Unlike owls, humans can’t swivel their heads around to face backwards. If only we could, driving backwards would be easier.

Let’s review this checklist of tips for backing up your vehicle.

  • Think in advance. Drivers should not put themselves into unnecessary backing situations.
  • Get to know a vehicle’s blind spots. In a medium-sized truck, blind spots can extend up to 16 feet in front and 160 feet behind a vehicle. Drivers need to remember that mirrors can never give the whole picture while backing.
  • Park defensively. Drivers must choose easy-exit parking spaces that don’t crowd neighboring vehicles and park their vehicle in the center of the parking space.
  • When parking in an alley: If an alley doesn’t permit driving all the way through or room to turn around, a driver should back into it (if local ordinances permit) so that when leaving the vehicle can pull forward into the street.
  • Do a walk-around first. Walking around a vehicle gives a driver firsthand view of the backing area and any limitations. You can check for children, soft or muddy areas, potholes, tire hazards, and other dangers.
  • Know the clearances. When performing a walk-around, check for obstructions, low-hanging trees and wires, and any other potential clearance-related problems.
  • Every backing situation is new and different. Sometimes a driver visits the same location several times a day and should be watchful each visit for changes and any new obstacles.
  • Use a spotter. A driver should use another person to help them when backing. The driver and spotter should use hand signals instead of verbal ones and make sure they understand each other’s signals. Don’t have the spotter walking backwards while giving instructions.
  • When you have to spot for yourself, return to the vehicle and start backing within a few seconds after finishing the walk-around. This will allow very little time for people and/or obstacles to change behind the vehicle.
  • A back up alarm can help warn away pedestrians and drivers of other vehicles who may try to enter the area the vehicle is backing into.