Having your teen put the car in reverse for the first time might cause your heart to skip a beat: Are they watching what they’re doing? Are they backing up too fast? Can they even see what’s behind them?
Whether it’s backing into a parking space, backing out of your driveway, or even the dreaded parallel parking, knowing how to properly put the car in reverse to make a backing maneuver is an important skill for your teen to learn.
When backing out a parked car, remind your teen that the process starts before they even get behind the wheel. Get them in the habit of doing a visual inspection of the area surrounding the car, especially the back. Is the area free of obstacles? Are there kids or pets around? How about other vehicles? Is the clearance on either side of the car tight? Being aware of any potential problems will ensure things go smoothly when backing out.
There’s an old traffic safety saying: no one ever died while parallel parking (although there is the potential for property damage). That may be true, but backing out from a driveway or parking lot, especially onto a busy street, can be quite dangerous. It’s important to take it slow and watch out for oncoming traffic or pedestrians that may seemingly come from nowhere.
Technology can be a huge help. In recent years, back-up cameras and similar devices have become more common. Starting in May 2018, back-up cameras will be required on all new cars. If you purchased your car recently, you may already have one. This feature can be particularly helpful—an extra set of eyes—especially when parallel parking or backing out of tight spaces. But remember, this feature is an assist, not a replacement for the driver’s judgment.
Back-up cameras show drivers a view of the blind zone directly behind the car. A similar feature, back-up warning systems, can detect objects in your backing path and alert you with a beep or vibration if an object is detected. For both features, remember the camera and sensors can only see and detect what is within their vicinity. If a child or pet is beneath the camera’s field of view, they will not appear on the display or be detected by the back-up warning sensors. The camera also needs to be kept free of debris, snow and ice to perform properly. This is why having your teen perform that initial check outside check—before entering the vehicle—along with using the rear and side view mirrors in conjunction with the camera is so essential.
MyCarDoesWhat.org is a great resource for learning more about back-up cameras, back-up warning systems and other safety features in your car. If you’re teaching your teen to drive, especially if they’re learning on a newer car, this resource can help you learn all you need to know about these features so you’re prepared to pass that knowledge on to your teen.
Backing up is one of the first driving skills your teen will learn. If they already have their license and have been driving for a while, they likely have it down. However, it never hurts to check in and pass along some fresh insight. Every time you learn something new, it’s an opportunity to teach your teen a new skill and build experience.