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July 19, 2010


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Interesting that some of the "Green P" parking lots downtown actually have "Back in" painted at every spot in some of their lots. Case in point is the underground lot off of York Street. Even then, you come across many cars there nose in. Go figure?

True Canadian

Now what do you do when you have a pick-up with a cap with tinted windows and an SUV with the back windows tinted and they are both nosed-in on either side of you?

John B

Jim, I know you're not British, so I presume that was a Mercury that backed out in front of you. ;)

Jim Kenzie

Hi John:

The first time I saw 'Merc' as a short form for Mercedes-Benz it confused me too! Geez; that'd have been back in my early days as a Road & Track magazine reader. Growing up it meant 'Mercury' to me too..

Jim Kenzie

Geez, I dunno. Pray, maybe??

Philip Powell

Jim, I've been telling people this for years, personally and as an automobile journalist. I learned it the hard way decades ago when backing out of a spot in a Nassau parking lot. A lady, passing at speed, hit our rented VW. No great damage but a lesson to both parties.

Now a registered "old guy" I find backing up more difficult as I can no longer twist around in the seat to look behind. I have to rely on the mirrors and while that's okay on the driver's side, "objects are closer than they appear" totally distorts the passenger side.

If I, a car guy and ex-racer, find it hard to back in, imagine how difficult it must be for the average driver, who can barely manage to park in any direction without hitting something. Nevertheless I agree, to the point where, if I see an unlikely candidate reversing into a parking spot, I offer congratulations.

-- Philip

Jim Kenzie

Hi Philip:

Great to hear from you!

As I noted in my story on truckers this past weekend, those guys back up 18-wheelers using just their mirrors. With most cars having power mirrors now, you can adjust them for driving (i.e., much further out than most people do) then re-adjust them for parking.

And if you nose in because you can't twist around to see in, then how do you back out?!

Unless maybe you've been parking at your chiropractor...


How about the person who, even when you put on your signal to back in, sits right on your bumper and gets really annoyed that you want to back in - and won't back up to let you into the spot. Or the one who sees you backing into the spot and tries to get past behind you while you are backing up. Everyone is in a hurry, aggravated, rude and not too bright. Very irritating.


Right on Jim! My dad always made me back in when I learned how to drive. Although I do "cheat" the odd time by driving in forward into a spot so it looks like I backed in (love those spots). My dad recently broke that rule and damaged some guy's brand new BMW M5 (and the guy had no collision coverage). My dad caused $5000-$6000 damage on his car. Another lesson, carry full coverage!

Kent Harrison

The good news is that my daughter is currently involved with drivers ed and the instructor makes her back into all parking spaces. Finally, education that works!

And this in PEI no less, the land of the worst drivers I have ever experienced!


One place one should always see a car backed in, is in a residential driveway.

There's no excuse to not back in to the driveway at one's house. Kids' bikes, skateboards, pedestrians etc. can all be seen when driving up to the house and dealt with and usually a driver is not in rush when arriving home. When leaving the driveway next time, the driver can see right in front of the vehicle and observe if anything has been left in the driveway, as well as see pedestrians and traffic.

Compare this to leaving the driveway if pulled in not backed in. A lot of times it's first thing in the morning, running late for work, in a hurry, no time to look for toys in the driveway, can't see the early morning jogger on the sidewalk, or clearly see street traffic etc.

It's a no brainer, but so are a lot of other things when it comes to driving (like staying in the right lane).

David White

No question that backing in is the smart solution. Young Drivers of Canada have been teaching that for over 20 years. I am a car guy and ex-racer AND senior citizen.Backing up is no problem with blind spot mirrors.These adjustable, 5.1 cm mirrors just stick to your regular side mirrors and provide a wide angle view that includes blind spots and the painted lines in parking lots. Under $10.00 at Canadian Tire. No ECO tax!

Dave S

Absolutely agree with you on backing into a parking spot, something I always do whenever possible, and something I'm always recommending to others. However, what's your take on parking when you're at some place like Home Depot, you've got a hatchback and you're buying something large that can only be put in through the back, with the rear seats down? In those cases, I nose in only because even if I backed in and left extra space behind me, someone is going to be an idiot and park over the line, leaving me without any space to get anything into the back.

Tim Burrows

The other huge advantages to this method are that when you back in, you have to drive past the spot, thus creating an opportunity to look at the spot for children, carts, debris etc. You also place the engine (in most cases) to the lot allowing easier access for boosts in the occasion your battery lets you down.


Backing into a parking spot is also easier on your wallet.

Putting the car into reverse and backing out, after a cold start, uses more fuel than if you've been driving around and then reverse-parking into a spot.

Trev M

I have been backing in ever since I had to drive an old cube van. It was much easier to back in.

It is also a situation where those little convex mirrors are very handy. I still use the blind spot adjustment trick with the regular mirrors for routine blind spot checks while driving.

The big problem with backing up is the limited access to the trunk while shopping. Also in these crowded urban parking lots, people tend to be overly distracted and don't seem to pay much attention in the parking lot.

I have been very pleased with Ford's cross traffic alert which warns me of coming cross traffic while backing up. Every manufacturer should be offering this.

Trevor Tremaine


The notion is fine on those spots perpendicular to the street, but doesn't work for those "angled" to the direction of travel - and you're still left in the same predicament. SUVs, minivans and any vehicle with tinted windows create a sight blocking wall - period. I can understand why BMW has put front side-view cameras on their new cars as it allows one to see around when sight is impaired, but perhaps a pair on the back sides would also be effective. Hopefully other manufacturers will follow this lead.

In many cases these days, backing into a spot off on a busy street or parking lot isn't tolerated by those driver's behind you, and can in fact be dangerous just by the speed in which many drivers come around a corner if the spot you're vying for is close to an intersection (ie. you're damned if you do, damned if you don't). Also, drivers tend to not be courteous enough to let another driver out of a spot because it's "not to their advantage" unless they actually want that spot. There has to be a balance of patience on both sides with an understanding of the issues that the other drivers are going through.

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