From the time I took my first course in EVOC, I’ve been told that backing is the most dangerous thing we do behind the wheel of the car. I remember how adamant the instructor had been: “The majority of our wrecks are backing up, so don’t back up!”
In almost two decades of law enforcement, I’ve seen that trend continue. As an instructor myself, I took pride in the three rules of backing: Don’t back, don’t back, and, finally, don’t back!
I recently asked a few hundred instructors the types of collisions that were plaguing them worst. You guessed it: backing-related collisions. Although they generally occur at low speeds, with minimal property damage, and they don’t present the level of danger of other types of collisions, such as intersections and emergency response, backing-related collisions remain a problem in law enforcement.
Here are some general rules to follow in order to avoid backing related collisions:
Some agencies have a cone policy that requires first responders to place cones in the rear of the vehicle. This is a sound idea that not only alerts other drivers of the dangers but requires the driver to walk around the vehicle to pick up the cones, which makes them familiar with the surroundings.
Although backing up will not normally be the most dangerous thing an officer will do during their daily shift, the activity can nevertheless create damage, embarrassment and an overall bad day.
When in doubt, just follow the simple rules: Don’t back, don’t back, and, finally, don’t back!