Explain to me the allure of backing into parking spots

At my place of employment our parking lot consists of parking spaces perpendicular to the building (pull up directly to the sidewalk that surrounds the building) or spots on the other side of the two-way drive again perpendicular to the building facing into the grass.
On any given day I’d say more than 50% of the parked cars are pulled in backwards facing the drive. I don’t understand this.
Clearly driving forward into a spot and driving forward out of a spot take the same amount of time. But pulling backwards out of a spot is certainly easier than pulling backwards into a spot.
Is everyone of the mindset “I’ll take my time getting to work but when I leave I’d like to get out of there 2 seconds quicker than normal.”

Explain please?

I see that same thing in shopping centers around here and I don’t get it. I cringe if someone tries to back in near my car - especially when they’re driving a huge vehicle - I feel as if my little Scion won’t even be a blip on their radar.

I find it’s lots easier to back out than to back in, so in the end, I’ve spent less time parking. I WIN!!

I have two theories:

  1. It’s a guy thing.

  2. People with large vehicles with poor visibility out the back prefer to back in so they don’t have to worry about what/who they might hit coming out.

I only see pick-up truck drivers doing this.

I guess that they are too used to backing up to the loading dock at Joe’s Feed Lot to change.

Or maybe they need to prove to their pick-up truck driving friends that they COULD back up to the loading dock at Joe’s Feed Lot should the need arise.

There’s a cute young woman who drives a big honkin’ SUV and works in my building, who always backs into her parking space. It’s not necessarily a guy thing.

I thought of that but our parking lot is rarely busy with traffic, the drive is about 3-4 cars wide, and I would think if they were afraid of backing into something they’d be afraid of backing into the two cars they were parking inbetween.

At work, it just means I can be out of the parking lot and on my way home 3-5 seconds faster, whereas back parking means I’ll be an extra 10 seconds or so getting to my desk.


You’re setting up for your escape and high speed car chase, should you need one.

For me, it depends on the lot.

At Costco, I pull in forward. There’s usually a fair amount of traffic in the lot, which means trying to back in would disrupt the flow and even run the risk of someone else pulling into the spot (not expecting me to back in once I’ve passed it). Backing out is often aided by someone who wants the space I’m in. So it’s generally most efficient to pull in forward and back out.

At church, I back in. Traffic arriving for the service is somewhat spread out, so there’s usually time to maneuver in backwards. Traffic leaving the service tends to be all at once, and all departing, making it difficult to find a break for backing out. So in total, it does save time to back in and pull out forward.

ETA: Some people (e.g. my wife) are not comfortable backing in. I, on the other hand, have a lot of practice maneuvering cars around in tight spaces and can easily and accurately back in. For people who find backing in a challenge, the concept makes less sense than to those of us who are adept at it.

I usually back in. It’s not a big deal but here’s a few reasons:

I know for a fact I’m not in a hurry now. I may be later, so why not back in to save a bit of time later?

Somebody might park illegally near me (like directly across if the lot is full) making it a tight fit to pull out. Much easier if I can drive forward to exit.

A big SUV or van might park beside me. If I have to pull out blindly, I’d rather go forward because I can see if anything is coming sooner. If I’m not backed in, the rear of my car is already out there before I can really see if it’s clear.

If I’m driving a crappy car, and it’s winter, I might need a battery boost later. Much easier if the front of the car is facing out.

What pisses me off is people backing in when the spaces are diagonal – so you’re in the wrong direction going in, and you’re in the wrong direction coming out.

In driver’s ed, they went on and on and on about how it was much safer. I never understood it. I hate backing in. I’m fully capable of it, but I will not do it unless there’s a need, like backing into a loading dock. I will pull forward, through, it there are is an empty space in front of me. It makes it appear as though I backed in, but I didn’t.

Reversing into a parking space is easier and safer than reversing out of one, potentially into the path of other vehicles.

Most cars manoeuvre differently in reverse, so it might be easier to get into the spot in one turn (my last car had such a poor turning circle, that it simply wasn’t possible to pull forwards into a tight parking space without doing a multi-point turn).

Also, it might be something to do with the position of the sun - given the choice, I’ll try to park my car in such a way that the steering wheel will not be in direct sun when I return (if the sun ever shines again here, that is)

For trucks and large SUV backing in gives you a tighter turning circle and a better chance of getting in the spot straight in one shot.
It is the same reason you back into a parallel parking spot.

A lot of times, especially in retail lots lots, what you think of as backing in, I see as pulling through.

I can drive in Reverse, at my family’s house all the cars were backed into the driveway for fast exits(we’re a family of emergency fire dept. volunteers), but I hate Reverse. If I see an open spot that I can pull through to the other side, I’ll take it, even if it’s a little further away than a normal spot. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is fairly common.

I think you’ve nailed it. Certainly the highest incidence of this I tend to see is at sporting events, concerts, and the like, when people might arrive any old time but they’re all going to leave at once. It’s far easier to ease your way into a line of cars when you’re pulling forward out of your parking space.

To avoid having to drive in reverse at all, I pull through to the other space sometimes in open lots, but only if I won’t need to get into my trunk. (OK, “boot” for you Brits…) :slight_smile:

I do not have a cite but accident statistics show a very high rate of backing accidents. The agency I work for has several tens of thousands of vehicles and mandates backing them into parking spaces because of their previous high rate of backing-related crashes. The goal of the policy is to exit the space by driving forward, for several of the reasons stated in other postings, especially visibility of oncoming vehicles and pedestrians. This is doable without first backing in if you are in a lot with a double row of spaces. I look for a double row that has an empty space on the far side of the double row, on the other side of an empty space on the near side of the row and drive forward into the nearside space and cross the line into the farside space. This allows me to exit the space by driving forward when I leave. Backing into a space does take some practice.

Bingo. This is why you often see pickup truck drivers back in…long turning radius. Also, they can often hang the rear overhang over landscaping or what not, and not extend into the isle.

Also, I’ve seen lots of close calls and fender-benders when people are backing out of parking spaces…not when they are backing in. When you back in, you start out very visable, and can check out the parking space as you pass it.

Finally, if alternate vehicles park each way, then the all the driver’s doors are adjacent. This can allow more room for the driver’s doors to open if they park to leave more room on that side.

I almost always back in, it’s just the way I’ve always done it.
It’s much easier to see what’s coming when you’re pulling out of a parking spot head-first, rather than backing out.

Add in the fact that I have to reverse into parking bays and down long driveways in my work vehicle (an ambulance) all day, and it just becomes habit.

For me it’s the reverse - I’m always in a hurry when arriving somewhere (because I’m probably getting there at the last second) but I’m never in a hurry to leave.