Is Nose-In Parking Always Safer?

A recent thread contains the seeds of a discussion on the reasons for prohibiting back-in parking. I had always guessed that for parking lots where traffic need not flow one-way only (NOT lots with diagonal parking or underground lots which are usually one-way), that the main reason was to make license plates visible. A bit of research finds many references to “safety” and few to “enforcement”. What’s the skinny?

Any explanation why nose-in parking would be safer in a two-way lot would be appreciated.

I am sure Nose in parking is not safer if ability to view when leaving the parking space is of great importance.Driving forward into a driveway combined with backing onto a major road from a driveway is much more dangerous than backing into the driveway from the major road combined with driving forward onto the major road from the driveway.

If you have rear wheel drive and park nose-out you need more space to pull out and turn perpendicular without, say, scraping the rear door of your mom’s minivan against the front bumper of the car next to you in the direction that you are turning.
Run-on sentences rule.

To some extent it is probably safer just to have everyone park the same way, to avoid surprises.

I believe I have a safety advantage when I arrive at work very early to a basically empty lot to park in the nose out position. That way I avoid backing out in a crowded lot in the afternoon.

The “there’s safety in conformity” argument is kinda what I’m trying to debunk. I’d hate to think I can’t back in to a parking space because of someones OCD or esthetic sense.

I can think of two reasons that backing out might be safer.

First of all, backing into a space requires more care in the alignment of the vehicle than backing out (where the vehicle is already aligned). It seems that there wold be a greater chance of making a mistake just by the fact that you’re adding a step that requires a more difficult maneuver.

More importantly, however, backing out of a space allows you to warn others of your intention, via the vehicle’s reverse lights. Compare this to a vehicle that has backed into a space, where another driver would have no warning that the vehicle was preparing to pull out of the space prior to its actually moving.

Combine those two, at it seems as if pulling straight in and backing out is, in general, a bit safer.

Is backing into parking spaces really prohibited? Where?

IMO, as long as you are careful it really doesn’t matter whether you reverse in or out. In Europe the visibility of the number plate isn’t an issue either, as we have to display them on the front of the car as well.

The only practical argument I can think of for not backing into a parking space is that if you drive in nose-first it’s easier to load your shopping into the boot, especially from a shopping trolley.

eunoia - Well, there is safety in conformity. For example, we all drive on the same side of the street. Non conformists to that convention are fairly quickly weeded out. And, back to the parking lot, it helps to have everyone parking the same way.

Joe Random - I agree with your first point, except for the situation I mentioned where I park in an empty lot and pull out in a crowded lot. Your second point, though, doesn’t convince me as much. Because when I am driving forward, as a driver I can clearly see what other drivers and pedestrians are doing. When I am backing, I need to turn around awkwardly in my seat and still feel I have more limited visibility.

Er… Why? It’s usually pretty obvious what is going to happen if you see a car coming out of a parking space, whether they do it backwards or forwards.

Surely anybody who genuinely finds this confusing (and I don’t believe anyone here really does) shouldn’t be trusted to walk about in carparks unaccompanied, and certainly shouldn’t be allowed to drive. :rolleyes:

Sure, but we’re not all forced to go in the same direction. In any case, how this relates to parking lots is what I’m trying to figure out by asking here. I have no problem with conventions, I’d just like to know why some lots force everyone to park the same way.

  1. In most vehicles, the driver’s seat is closer to the front wheels than the rear wheels… this means that the driver must have more of the car sticking out into the aisle before he/she can see the full extent of traffic.

  2. It is easier to see when pulling straight out of a parking space, lessening the likelihood of striking another person or car.

  3. Te reverse of this is that backing entails less visibility, espeically considering the return of the 1970’s high trunk fad. Most cars are higher in the rear, and unless it’s a wagon or SUV, will have the driver peer over a high shelf, usually just a bit above a rear passenger’s shoulders. The “stadium” position (elevated) of the rear seat in many new cars adds to the poor sightlines. One generally need not watch for as many moving obstacles in a dead end parking spot as when backing blindly into an aisle.

  4. When driving a car forward, the steering is in the forward set of wheels. Therefore, the front of the car may be guided with precision. When backing, the rearward (relative to motion) wheels are steering. THerefore, the driver must simultaneously watch to the rear to avoid a collision, while not swinging the steering too far and hitting a car in the front.

  5. All observations are reversed if you happen to be the driver of the 1950’s BMW Isetta.

  6. Any ban on backing into spaces is likely due to the relative lack of training and driving finesse in U.S. drivers. Many are simply unable to manage the sheer mass of vehicle protruding to the rear.

  7. Just a small footnote. My father is a retired FHP officer and mentioned once that they train their men (and women) to back into parking spaces (in Crown Vics no less) in order to be able to respond more quickly if need should arise.

When I back out, someone speeding down the aisle may hit my car, but they don’t hit me/my door panel. That seems a bit safer.

Back up lights to warn other drivers that you are about to pull out. Granted many cars these days have day running lights but they all have “back up” lights.

I suspect this is one of those toilet-paper-over-or-under things. I’m a habitual nose-out parker where the situation allows, for reasons that have been amply put forth above, and I doubt anyone will convince me of the superiority of nose-in parking.

But there are situations where nose-in is called for, one being angle in parking where the drive lane demands traffic be one-way.

Guess how I hang the toilet paper.