Whose fault is it if I back out of a parking space and hit someone driving by behind me?
The Motor Vehicle Act establishes a general rule requiring that a driver must not move a vehicle that is stopped, standing or parked unless the movement can be made with reasonable safety.
It also places the onus on a driver who is backing up. It says that a driver must not in any event or at any place cause a vehicle to move backwards unless the movement can be made in safety.
Backing Crash Liability
A check of ICBC's web site finds a page where liability for a crash caused by a driver backing up is discussed. The page says that the courts generally rule that a reversing vehicle is 100 per cent at fault for any resulting accident. ICBC will assess your fault based on court decisions, so expect to be at fault both from the point of view of a traffic ticket and insurance liability.
Case Law Example
The case of Kope v Tse decided liability following a crash in a Canadian Tire parking lot in Vancouver. Madam Justice McDonald examines the circumstances involved and explains each driver's duty to the other.
Strategies to Avoid Trouble
Here are a number of suggestions to help you avoid problems:
- Back into the parking space. The vehicles around it are not moving.
- Choose a parking space that you can drive through and face outward on the other side.
- Have a passenger guide you and stop traffic.
- Circle check your vehicle before entering and scan constantly while backing.
- Back up slowly.
- Never back up further than absolutely necessary.
- Turn toward the driver's side if possible for better visibility.
- Install a backup alarm to warn others.
Automated Driver Assistance
Many newer vehicles have a backup cameras and warning systems as standard equipment. The system warns a driver of objects it senses behind the vehicle when they are near enough to be a hazard. They are meant as assistance and must not take the place of a 360 degree visual scan and turning your head to look to the rear.
You may choose to install an aftermarket kit if it was not available as a factory accessory for your vehicle.
But it's also worth mentioning that when reversing into a space, you're more maneuverable as you're steering with the trailing wheels, just like a fork lift truck. So you can stuff a vehicle into the space available much more easily.
Plus which, when driving forward out of your space later, you have full use of your peripheral vision, and it's kept you alive for a long time so far in all sorts of circumstances. Whereas, many drivers who back out of spaces only look into a mirror. This makes no use of their inbuilt peripheral vision, so isn't that a dumb way to do things?