Backing Up? You are Responsible for Safety

Backing UpThe crew from the School Bus Garage in Keremeos tell about a person driving a motor home that backed out of a driveway near a school bus that was dropping off children. The person didn’t appear to be paying attention and almost backed over one of them. The crew thought that a big yellow school bus displaying flashing lights should have been a clue for the driver to exercise more care.

This is a very important thought because the Motor Vehicle Act places all the responsibility on the driver moving in reverse. It says that the driver of a vehicle shall not cause the vehicle to move backwards into an intersection or over a crosswalk, and shall not in any event or at any place cause a vehicle to move backwards unless the movement can be made in safety.

Two specific offences are created in this section. The first is backing into an intersection and the second is backing over a crosswalk. Both of these imply that the movement is being made on a highway.

The final part of the section makes no mention of being on a highway. It simply says that in no circumstances will a driver travel in reverse unless that movement can be carried out in a safe manner.

If you are going to back up your vehicle and you cannot see well enough through the windows or by using mirrors like the motor home driver it would be wise to find someone to act as a flag person and help you. It is not convenient but it is safe, and that is what is required.

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... a statistician would probably come up with some statistics to consider.

Probaby something like '50% of collisions (or maybe they're still calling them 'accidents') occur when vehicles are being reversed; yet time and distance occupied by doing this involve less than a tenth of a percent of vehicle movement'.

I must admit, I made that one up, although I've seen the 50% figure in 'official' statistics before now.  Reversing collisions may be more frequent, if you think about it.

Productive rules and practices can be, and are being applied.  For instance, you'll never see a transit bus backing up; it's simply not allowed.  Several years ago, I headed a project for Fortis (then BC Gas) to try to address their collision rate, by shadowing their drivers; these days, none of their employees are allowed to drive forward into a parking space or driveway.  If you doubt this, then try a Google Earth search of their main parking lot on Fraser Highway and check out the aerial view; you won't see a single vehicle that has been driven into a space forward.

ICBC, when they coalesced into this strange licensing/insurance conglomerate several years ago, made reversing safely into a parking space one of their new criteria.  This is not a corporation that cheerfully shares its statistical information, but they do know how to apply it; and they realized that they could cut future claims by determining whether new drivers were reasonably adept at backing safely into a parking stall, instead of driving in forwards.

It's not hard to convince people in the safety business; the difficulty is in convincing the average Joe or Joanne that their kids would be safer if they made a practice of reversing into their own driveway, and walking around their vehicle prior to moving it, every time.  Especially if what they have been doing for years seems always to have worked out just fine, without serious consequences.

People do not understand risk, for the most part.  And sometimes, the folks who figure they can drive Winnebagos safely are the worst of all.