HORRY COUNTY (WMBF) – It's the holiday season, which means you can expect to be parking in crowded lots. But you may be parking wrong – leaving pedestrians and other cars vulnerable. AAA says 76 percent of people park incorrectly. Backing into a parking space may take a little more time, but you and the parking lot will be much safer.
According to AAA, almost 300 people a year are killed by a driver backing up, and about 18,000 are injured. Most of those accidents happened in parking lots. And while many newer cars are equipped with rear traffic alert systems meant to warn drivers about anything or anyone behind their vehicle, A AAA study found some systems aren't designed to detect pedestrians, and others fail to detect them up to 60 percent of the time.
So mastering the technique of backing in maximizes driver visibility and minimizes chances of striking a pedestrian or other vehicle.
"You can see a lot better both ways, if somebody's coming," said Mike Doneff, the Lead Instructor and Owner of Safe Driving School Inc. in Myrtle Beach. "You can turn usually pretty early, where backing your car is swinging out. The back of your car won't swing and hit a car if you turn pretty early. I do like the students to be pulling out instead of backing out whenever is possible. It is a lot easier."
According to the North Myrtle Beach Police Department, there have been 131 accidents at the Walmart on US 17 Bypass in the last three years.
Most incidents involving a driver backing up occur in parking lots. Backing in and avoiding those accidents can also save you money. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, almost 15 percent of accidents that lead to insurance claims also happen in parking lots. If you don't feel comfortable backing into a space, find a spot where you can pull all the way through or keep these tips in mind.
"Go slow and look for clues that a car or a person may come out," Doneff said. "Look for backup lights, break lights, the wheels turning, exhaust, and look for people getting into the driver's seat. Those are all clues that someone is getting ready to back out. They may have a limitation on their neck movement or their looking out their mirrors, which you cannot see things on the side when you're looking out the mirrors in a parking lot when you're backing out."