Skip to main content

Voices. Knowledge. Solutions.

Preventing Backing Accidents

Since 2019, the SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund has handled over 200 backing accidents, which cost approximately $829,000. Backing accidents — accidents which occur when a vehicle is moving in reverse — are one of the most easily preventable accident types.

Backing claims submitted to the SC Municipal Insurance and Risk FInancing Fund have increased for two consecutive years. (High-res image)
Backing collisions most often occur at slow speeds in parking lots, alleys, and roadways. Because of the potential to collide with unnoticed or unseen objects, drivers need to be highly attentive when backing.   

Backing accidents can be avoided by using several basic driving techniques. Here are some tips for preventing them: 

  • Park defensively. Pull through or back into the parking space. This provides a better line of sight when leaving the parking space. Most backing accidents occur while backing out of parking spaces. This is particularly true of emergency response vehicles. 
  • Perform a walk-around. Walking around a vehicle gives a clear view of the backing area and any limitations. Drivers can check for pedestrians or children, soft or muddy areas, potholes, tire hazards and other dangers. 
  • Know the clearances. When performing a walk-around, drivers can check for obstructions, low-hanging trees and wires, and any other potential clearance-related problems. 
  • Use a spotter. Drivers should use another person to help them when backing. To prevent miscommunication, the driver and spotter should use hand signals instead of verbal ones and make sure they understand each other. When driving with more than one person in the vehicle, a person who is not driving should always serve as a spotter. Spotters should be trained on how to communicate the hazards to the operator. If the spotter and operator lose sight of each other, the backing operation should stop immediately. 
  • Install a rear-vision camera and backing sensor in vehicles. This reduces rear blind spots. Investing in a rear-vision camera and backing sensor system for vehicles can put drivers in the full visual control of the rear of a vehicle. 
  • Create and support a municipal training program. The program should include a drivers’ course to teach and review backing techniques, as well as cover equipment usage, hand signals, dangers to avoid and other risk-lowering topics. 
No amount of forward driving experience can help a driver with backing a truck or other vehicles. All drivers need to practice in safe surroundings until they become familiar with the way the vehicle backs up compared to the direction the steering wheel is turned. 

The use of backup cameras should not replace drivers looking to the right, left and behind as they back up, but can be used as an additional safeguard.  

Collision avoidance systems are another tool that can help in preventing backing accidents. The wireless parking backup sensor system with sound will start to beep when there is something 8 feet away and continue getting faster as the vehicle gets closer, alerting the driver. This technology greatly reduces the potential of a backing accident and can be considered for 50% reimbursement up to the stated limit through the SCMIT and SCMIRF grants. Grant funds are available on a first-come, first served basis until depleted.  

For questions, contact John Ciesielski at or 803.354.4752.