Why should you be backing in to a perpendicular parking spots instead of backing out?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 2006

Dear Tom and Ray:

Here in the nation's capital, we have some streets or parking lots with signs that say "back-in parking only." I was ticketed when I overlooked this requirement. My question: What's the advantage of requiring drivers to back in to a parking space? The spot where I was ticketed was on a wide two-way street. I can't see how backing in is safer than backing out. What am I missing? Or is this just to make it easier for the ticket writer to access your windshield? -- Carroll

TOM: It actually IS safer, Carroll. By the way, we're talking about parking spaces that are perpendicular, or at an angle, to the curb -- not parallel-parking spaces.

RAY: These are spaces that require you to drive past the parking space, stop and then back in.

TOM: The primary advantage is that it's not terribly dangerous to back in to a space -- because the cars behind you can see you stopping and signaling -- and it's a lot safer to pull OUT going forward.

RAY: Look at it from the other point of view. If you park in the traditional way, you've pulled hood-first into an angled space. Now, when you back out, your trunk goes out first. Where are you? You're at the front of the car. While your car's butt is sticking out into traffic, you can't see if there are cars coming, because your view is blocked by the passenger compartments of the cars or SUVs parked next to you. Also, the cars coming down the street have no real warning that you're about to back out. All of a sudden, your trunk starts lurching out into the road.

TOM: Whereas when you back in to a space and then pull out, you pull out hood-first, so you are quickly in a position to see over the hoods of the cars next to you and see if any traffic is coming before pulling out onto the road.

RAY: So, believe it or not, Carroll, you have discovered evidence of intelligent life in our nation's capital. Congratulations.

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