Drivers Letters: Backing Accidents
12 Washington Street
Lynn, MA 01904-3306
Dear Professional Driver,
In this month’s letter we are going to discuss Backing Accidents. Federal safety data confirms that one out of every four collisions for trucking companies involves backing. Regrettably, backing accidents are always Preventable, regardless of circumstances as outlined in the “Truck Accident Preventability Manual” by William E. Kenworthy when:
• Driver backed up when backing could have been avoided by better planning of his/her route;
• Driver backed into traffic stream when such backing could have been avoided;
• Driver failed to get out of cab and check proposed path of backward travel;
• Driver depended solely on mirrors when it was practical to look back;
• Driver failed to get out of cab periodically and recheck conditions when backing a long distance;
• Driver relied solely on a guide to help him back;
• Driver backed from blind side when he could have made a sight-side approach.
99.9% of all backing accidents can be attributed to anyone of the above bullet points. When the backing accident does occur, Liability Insurance Companies will normally accept fault, pay for damages and close the file. They just won’t incur the expense of civil litigation when the accident is the result of backing.
The North American Transportation Management Institute defines preventability as follows: “If a driver, who exercises normal judgment and foresight could have foreseen the possibility of the accident that in fact occurred, and avoided it by taking steps within his/her control which would not have risked causing another kind of mishap, the accident was preventable.”
We are not so naïve to think our industry can eliminate backing, on the contrary; it’s mandatory. Snow banks, illegally parked vehicles and non-observant spotters only add to the risk. Here are defensive tips from Professional Drivers to prevent backing accidents;
➢ Avoid having to back up. Park so you can move forward when starting.
➢ Park in a location away from moving traffic or other parked vehicles to avoid difficult maneuvering conditions or set yourself up for a collision.
➢ Before you back your vehicle, walk all the way around it to check underneath and all sides and back for obstructions or other dangers. Ensure there is plenty of clearance around the vehicle to back safely.
➢ Use your side view and spot mirrors.
➢ Watch your side clearances on both sides and then back out slowly.
These drivers also recommend to remember the Defensive Driving Acronym G.O.A.L.:
Get Out And Look