We have a saying here at AvatarFleet: Vehicles don’t have accidents, people do. You should never have a backing accident because you have time to Get Out And Look! It’s downright silly that backing accidents are some of the most common that occur because they’re the easiest to prevent. So how do they still happen? Lazy behaviors.
While backing accidents are rarely severe, there’s always that small chance it could be serious. What if you hit another car, or worse, a pedestrian, or dock worker? In the U.S., backing accidents cause 500 deaths and 15,000 injuries every year. All are preventable.
Here are six simple tips to take to your team to prevent backing accidents:
- Get Out And Look (G.O.A.L.)– Checking around your vehicle before backing is the most sure-fire way of avoiding an accident. Look for pedestrians, road hazards, and any objects you can’t see in your mirrors. When you re-enter your vehicle, back as soon as possible to ensure that the environment has not changed.
- Avoid Backing Whenever Possible – The best way to avoid backing is not to do it. If you don’t back, you won’t have a backing accident. Chose routes that don’t require backing or take a an extra loop around the block if possible. It’s not always possible in the transportation industry but if you have a choice – don’t do it.
- Park Defensively – Avoid parking in areas heavily crowded by other parked vehicles and park in the center of a spot to leave a safety cushion around your vehicle. The less vehicles and traffic around yours, the less of a chance you have of having an accident.
- Know your vehicle – Understand your vehicle’s clearances and blind spots. Then, use G.O.A.L. when taking your vehicle’s limitations into account.
- Use a Spotter – A spotter can help you navigate out of a tight spot. It is best to use hand signals with your spotter rather than verbal communication. It’s important to decide on what hand signals to use prior to backing. Don’t be afraid to ask the shipper/customer for help.
- Practice, practice, practice! – No amount of forward driving can help with your backing skills. Take time to familiarize yourself with how the vehicle you drive backs.
We fall into these bad backing habits because they make our lives easier. It’s easier not to hop out of the vehicle to Get Out And Look. And, if you’ve never had a backing accident before taking short cuts, why stop? Well, the 300:29:1 theory states that we’re playing with fire. Eventually, a bad behavior will lead to a major accident.
You can start good behaviors just as easily as you started the bad ones. Make a habit out of safe backing with this checklist:
- Do you know all of your vehicle’s blind spots?
- Are your mirrors adjusted properly?
- Are your mirrors clean, allowing for highest possible visibility?
- Is your window rolled down? Hearing your environment is just as important as seeing your environment.
- Lastly, Get Out And Look (G.O.A.L.). It is essential to do this last because the longer you take to back after you complete G.O.A.L., the more likely the environment is to change.
Watch clips from the A-Fleet on backing and other defensive driving techniques: