There is hope for people with bad spatial skills: rear-view cameras.
Every year, some 300 people are killed and 18,000 are injured by drivers who are backing up, usually in driveways or parking lots.
There’s a simple way to prevent a lot of these accidents: We could back into parking space so that we don’t have to back out.
Note that I’m talking about spaces in lots and garages that are perpendicular to the wall or perimeter. When it comes to parallel parking for a space on the street, everybody backs in, except for jerks like George’s nemesis in this classic Seinfeld bit.
In a parking lot, the AAA thinks we should back in, recommending that “drivers reverse into parking spaces whenever possible, except where prohibited by law or parking lot restrictions.”
Tom Vanderbilt, author of the classic book Traffic, thinks so, too. As does Car Talk. Here’s how host Ray Magliozzi concisely explained the dangers of backing out of a space: “While your car’s butt is sticking out into traffic, you can’t see if there are cars coming, because your view is blocked by the passenger compartments of the cars or SUVs parked next to you.”
And yet most of us don’t do this.
It is cumbersome to back out of a space, to be sure. But it would seem to be much harder to back in. In the first scenario, you’re backing into the universe, with the all the margin of error that implies. In the other, you’re backing into an unforgiving rectangle.
In 1990, in their monograph Parking (designed to present “the best of contemporary North American practice in regard to parking space planning, design and operation”), the transportation engineers Robert Weant and Herbert Levinson addressed the issue only in a passing comment. Back-in parking, they Read More Here