The majority of drivers spend a very small amount of their driving time in reverse gear, but the vehicle damage which occurs while reversing is one of the largest contributors to motor vehicle insurance claims in terms of both the frequency of collisions and the total cost of the repairs.
Almost 60% of all commercial vehicle accidents involve reversing, with HGVs taking 19% of these, vans 15% and company cars 10%**. Damage usually results from the insured vehicle being reversed into an object, a building or another vehicle. In the very worst cases a child or other pedestrian could be the victim.
Many of the collisions are contributed to by poor reversing visibility and by the driver’s failure to compensate for vehicle size and obstruction. The majority of reversing collisions occur at low speed and could be preventable with some simple safety precautions and modified driving behaviour.
Even the best commercial drivers can have difficulties reversing therefore it is advisable to take into account a number of considerations for your fleet and drivers.
Some of the issues to consider when assessing the risks associated with reversing include:
Can the need to reverse be avoided?
Is there enough space to reverse safely?
Is there a need to highlight objects or hazards with high visibility paint or other coatings to make them more visible?
Is the size of the vehicle contributing to the risk?
Would a smaller vehicle reduce the risk?
Is it safer to reverse into a parking space so that the vehicle can drive out forwards?
Is there a need to separate pedestrians from reversing vehicles?
Does the vehicle have restricted rear vision?
Is a guide needed to assist the driver with reverse parking?
Is there a requirement for training, instruction and supervision?
Is there a requirement for in-vehicle parking aids such as reverse parking sensors or reversing cameras?
Where do reversing accidents happen?
52% of reversing accidents happen during collection and delivery, so it is important that drivers exercise caution when visiting the sites and homes of customers.
Tips for reversing safely
The following tips may be useful to reduce the risk associated with reversing vehicles:
Is it safe and necessary to reverse?
Ensure that the vehicle’s rear vision mirrors are clean and properly adjusted to maximise rear vision.
Consider fitting blind spot mirrors or ‘fish eye’ mirrors to increase rear and side vision.
Avoid reversing over a long distance. It may be safer and easier to turn around or drive around the block.
Visually check for obstacles on approach to a reverse parking area.
Always aim to enter and leave any road in a forward direction.
Never reverse from a minor road onto a major road.
If reversing across an obscured footpath or other area where there may be pedestrians, use the vehicle’s horn to warn them or install an audible reverse alarm.
Give way to pedestrians if entering a roadway from a driveway.
Reverse slowly, use the mirrors and check both sides. Look back and continue to look back whilst moving in reverse.
Reversing vehicles have no right of way. If a vehicle approaches from behind, remain stationary and GIVE WAY until it passes.
If there is uncertainty that the way is clear because of blind spots, someone may be able to guide the driver. Otherwise the driver should get out and check for obstacles
Don’t be too proud or shy to ask someone to guide while reversing. It’s less embarrassing to use a guide than to crash a vehicle.
Walk around the vehicle and check for hazards before reversing from a parking area with restricted rear vision.
Get into the habit of reverse parking where vision is obscured. Reversing into a parking spot will allow the vehicle to drive out with better vision.
If driving an unfamiliar vehicle, practice reversing to become aware of the vehicle’s rear visibility, turning circle and potential blind spots.
Select smaller vehicles for the best fit and easier parking in cramped parking conditions.
Vehicle Safety Devices
Fitting vehicle safety devices to your fleet can significantly reduce the chances of accidents happening or can provide vital evidence in the event of a claim. The devices available can include:
External side-mounted and rear-view mirrors.
Refractive lenses fitted to rear-view mirrors or CCTV systems to help drivers see behind the vehicle.
Reversing alarms fitted – either audible or flashing lights.
‘Sensing’ systems to warn the driver or stop the vehicle when an obstruction is detected or comes in contact with the vehicle.
How can FLEETSense help?
We will help you to understand which reversing solution is right for your vehicles and business, according to usage, cost and any systems that you have already installed. Not all systems are the same, some offer greater flexibility, such as wireless systems.
Some budget van reversing camera systems are perfectly adequate; however we only supply commercial-grade systems that we know will stand up to daily use, provide good-quality images and will be reliable.
Contact us today to discuss your requirements.