Backing into a Parking Space


I agree with the brothers that backing in is safer. As they said you have better visibility when leaving the parking spot and moving into traffic.

They missed the second advantage. When you back in you have more control than when you pull in. Remember that when you try to maneuver you can only do so by moving the front end of the car. The front end swings to change directions. When pulling in or backing out, the front end is restricted due to the car on either side. When pulling out you have much more maneuverability.

I was taught this many years ago when I was in school and parked cars for a living. We all had to back in.

I should add that today I am also a rower, so maneuvering into a space behind me is standard practice.

This post has been moved to the new Car Talk Discussion Area, by a Car Talk Lackey. The original poster is



Just remember to be careful going out in forward gear, there are no reverse lights on the front so nobody can tell that you are about to move. Not that they would notice anyway while on the cell phone.


Well having DLR’s solves that issue. :slight_smile:


Makes sense to me. But why then are there lots that have signs that prohibit backing in to spaces? I always thought this wrongheaded.


I don’t believe those signs referred to parallel parking…this is for those that back into slots in parking lots… I can’t figure why people do it.


I pretty much need to back into my garage for the car to fit (passenger door is very close to the wall when I back in, giving enough room for both me and my wife (who pulls staight in on the other side) to have enough room to get out of our cars in the middle of the garage.

I also live on a corner, and let me tell you, after someone has just waited for me to come to a FULL STOP at the the four-way stop sign, then have to wait for me to stop and back into my driveway (they have to wait for me, of course, because they rolled through the stop sign; otherwise I would have pulled in long before they made the turn), well, some people get rather irate.

I think the reason, actually, is this: People see backing out of a driveway to be normal behavior, while backing into one to be aberrant and against the laws of nature.

So while you may say that pulling straight out of a driveway is better than backing out, this is a societal issue that some people just aren’t ready to deal with.


But why then are there lots that have signs that prohibit backing in to spaces?

The only place I have seen those signs is where the slots are angled. and the lanes are one way.  However I would not be surprised if some bone head has erected them in other areas.


I think the reason, actually, is this: People see backing out of a driveway to be normal behavior, while backing into one to be aberrant and against the laws of nature.

I suspect it is more a matter of lack of foresight. They pull in because it is easier and have never connected that action with backing out. They also have never considered that backing out is more hazardous and more difficult.


Personally, I almost always back into parking spaces.

I find it much easier to pull out of a parking space by going forward, than by going backward.

The more crowded the parking lot, the more true this is for me. If I back out of a parking space, I really can’t see other cars nearly as well.


How you want to park is your own perogative. But consider this, in a parking lot/garage where the traffic flow is slow and the cars are parked closer together, it’s easier to hit a car while backing in. Of course, everybody has excellent depth perception and always knows where the rear bumper is on the car.

It’s just that I have had folks bump up against me more than once while they attempt to back in to a spot. It seems to me that it’s easier (with lower likelyhood of backing into a vehicle) to back out of a parking lot space than it is to back into the parking space. A driveway to a house might be different since you are pulling into traffic.


After watching an Oprah show on backing over small children, it seems to be a no brainer if for no other reason than safety. Just make sure no motorcycles are in the way as you back in.


Don’t think I’de try backing in at McDonalds!


I think that backing in is safer…if one knows how to use their mirrors.

My wife tries to guestimate distances by looking over her shoulders, and the results are usually awkward at best.

Also, having mirrors that are remotely adjustable, or at least have a birds-eye insert, are a plus, so that you can be sure that you are within the painted lines.

I read once that parking in reverse is a sign that the driver had prior military service, but I don’t think that is necessarily valid…


In some countries, backing in is Standard Procedure. That’s how it’s done. Australia and New Zealand are two places where backing in is normal.

In the States, for some drivers, backing in would be a REAL challenge…


Two more reasons to back in:

(1) If I am backing into a parking space the traffic has to wait for ME and then it is easier to pull out. (I don’t care how impatient they get.)

(2) You never know when you might need to make a fast get-away, especially if you have an attitude like the one expressed in (1).


Two major reasons some areas prohibit backing into parking places: 1) Starting some engines produces black smoke, which stains walls near the exhaust pipe, 2) Much Much easier for the the local heat to check license plates as they cruise up and down the parking lots. ‘Combat Parking’ requires one to back in, so one can make rapid exit; just beep the horn before backing. jkd


Another reason some places prohibit backing into a parking space has to do with locations of parking stickers or other identifying marks on the car. My sons’ university requires parking stickers to be positioned on the rear window and then prohibits backing into a parking space - that way the security officers can simply drive by and verify who has stickers and who doesn’t. But, given that backing in is inherently more safe, my vote is safety should trump convenience.


Just about the best drivers’ ed course I ever took (my company required it) sort of argued for never backing up at all. He used UPS as an example of a company that took that as almost a cardinal rule. He said that they had a position of paying parking tickets rather that allow their drivers to back up - it was cheaper than paying for the inevitable accident.


We live in a condo complex. Several cars routinely back in without any kind of preception they are in 2 spots and thus preventing anyone else from using that extra space.

One resident in particular drives a very large truck and he always backs into spaces. He doesnt always just use one space however and there is very limited parking here.

If you cant back in and just take up 1 space and we dont mean park on the line either; then you shouldnt be backing in period!!!


This may be a little off topic, but in a drivers ed course in NY, we were told that backing out of a driveway is actually illegal in NY. Since if this is true its not being enforced but pretty much I guess its application would be if you back out and hit someone you’re automatically at fault because you legally should not be backing out of a driveway.