Bullitt AND Seinfeld references!
January 14, 2018 9:19 PM   Subscribe

It's safer to back into a head-on parking spot, and then pull out forward. Most Americans do just the opposite. Why?
posted by Chrysostom (165 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why?

because backing in is tricky. maybe not as tricky as backing out, but anything could happen between parking and leaving, the world could end between parking leaving -- why do now what I can put off until later?
posted by philip-random at 9:27 PM on January 14, 2018 [18 favorites]


I find backing in easier than nosing in, but if I tried to back into spots in a crowded parking lot jerks would nose in behind me and steal my spot. Apparently I am George Costanza.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:40 PM on January 14, 2018 [13 favorites]


Slow news day, was it?

Backing in is tricky, with a reasonable chance of screwing up and scratching someone's car. Backing out "into the universe", as the author says, is way easier mechanically speaking. In my car, visibility in either direction isn't different enough to be a factor. And FFS how is there any net gain in overall "efficiency" by backing in and exiting forward vs. pulling forward and backing out??

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.”

And while your car's nose is sticking out into traffic, you also can't see if there are cars coming because of those same vehicles blocking your view. Again, net gain = bupkis.

suggests that early arrivers are go-getters and more willing to do a little work at the outset so as to have a smooth and clear exit.

Are those nose-out cars parked next to each other? Because (a) backing in is easier when you've got empty spaces on either side, and (b) I can easily see the early-bird Type-A students getting in early and being smugly fussy about their parking habits.

TLDR I AM NOT CONVINCED.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:43 PM on January 14, 2018 [67 favorites]


Backing in often requires dealing with three hard barriers: cars on either side, and whatever the endpoint of the parking space is. Backing out usually only means dealing with two.

And yeah, people get run over and cars get run into because drivers think of that third side as "open space" instead of "space that may or may not having someone in it." But backing in means dealing with a side that definitely had something in it - often a wall.

It'd be nice if rear-window cameras started to change the trend, but it'll probably take some action movie hero who announces, "I always back in; that way, I can peel out in a hurry if I'm being chased by people with guns."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:43 PM on January 14, 2018 [11 favorites]


We live in a fucking lawsuit happy society and everybody is dead broke and scared shitless of the cost of car insurance, and the cost of it rising.

For instance, I personally might not be a lawsuit happy person, but I've run into fucking plenty in my life, who threatened suit for far less than running into their parked car because you were trying to back into a spot (more like, "You just barely touched the side of my vehicle with your door while getting out of your vehicle! What the fuck is your problem?")

I had a little old lady accidentally back into me when she didn't see me coming out of a spot, and the horn in my car is broken, so I couldn't honk to warn her. The terror on her face. She was just a little old lady in a crummy little truck. It was actually one of my shittiest days, but I wanted to be nice to her, because there wasn't any visible damage and she was just so scared. She seemed like she was about to be in tears when I told her everything was fine and to not worry about it. I can't imagine the financial hardship behind the terror in those eyes.

Give me a break, it's not just laziness, it's most of us can't fucking afford to deal with the outcomes. Backing into a small rectangle is a lot harder for some people than a lot of people seem to think. I mean, the article even addresses that is easier to back into emptiness than back into a small space.

Yeah, I'm totally gonna risk hitting multiple cars instead of just the asshole behind me I didn't see when backing out (who could easily fucking honk to warn me, something empty fucking cars can't do). It seems like a totally valid and wise use of my time.

Horseshit. Just get the driverless cars here already so we can stop bitching about such pointless shit.
posted by deadaluspark at 9:44 PM on January 14, 2018 [56 favorites]


I was sitting in my car in my local library’s parking lot, which has ridiculously narrow spaces, and an older lady backed in beside me, scraping down the entire side of my car until finally she in her driver’s seat and me in mine were eyeball-to-eyeball. She said, “Here’s my insurance agent’s number; just tell him, ‘She’s done it again!!’” Never a fan of the back in, pull out forward method, this did little to change my stance.
posted by thebrokedown at 9:51 PM on January 14, 2018 [39 favorites]


Parking front-in makes it easier to reach the trunk. If you don't need access to the trunk, then why are you driving a car at all?
posted by Phssthpok at 9:54 PM on January 14, 2018 [72 favorites]


Additionally, reverse parking takes time. People care about being late when they arrive, not when they leave.
posted by zamboni at 9:56 PM on January 14, 2018 [55 favorites]


I have been in any number of parking lots with big signs that say "do not back in", because when people back in they tend to run into the hotel or parking garage wall, or the sign post, or whatever else is at the deep part of the parking space.

Ad what Phssthpok said.
posted by straw at 9:56 PM on January 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


So, as a non-USian, I've always been totally perplexed with how you guys always park head-in, because it just seems wrong to me. Head out parking feels a lot easier too; I'd probably take much longer to park head in than reversing into a lot. I do wonder if its actually related to the size of the car parks, actually.... in a very small and narrow car park it's probably easier to reverse into a lot because the turning wheels are in the front.
posted by destrius at 9:58 PM on January 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


Is it really that hard? Harder than parallel parking, which everybody does?

I think plain doing-what-everybody-else-does accounts for a lot of this. Consider that nobody used to turn on their headlights during the day, but nowadays lots of people do. Why? Because everyone else is doing it.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 10:01 PM on January 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Luckily, backup cameras are also very handy and awesome for safely backing out of a parking space and keeping an eye for pedestrians and other drivers.
posted by amanda at 10:02 PM on January 14, 2018 [19 favorites]


Backing-in parking just takes practice. Drive until your shoulder is at the center of the parking space you want to back into, then drive away until you can see both sides of the space in your side mirrors, then reverse and use your side mirrors to guide you in.

I say this with a bit of impunity because I've driven box trucks and delivery vans for 15 years or so now. But honestly, that's the technique. It's the shoulder thing that most don't get. Then you turn sharply away and then you're lined up for an easy backing in with some turning but nothing that feels dangerous.
posted by hippybear at 10:04 PM on January 14, 2018 [19 favorites]


Consider that nobody used to turn on their headlights during the day, but nowadays lots of people do. Why? Because everyone else is doing it.
No, those are daytime running lights.
posted by smcameron at 10:04 PM on January 14, 2018 [32 favorites]


I actually turn on my headlights during the day because I want to be seen from the back as well as the front.

In fact, I find daytime running lights dangerous because of the number of vehicles I see running after dark with no rear lights on at all because it doesn't occur to them that they need to flip the damn switch. "I can see, there's nothing to think about."
posted by hippybear at 10:08 PM on January 14, 2018 [14 favorites]


Yeah so thinking about it a little more, I'm pretty sure its because of car park sizes. Imagine parking in a car park where the distance between opposite lots is a little less than the length of a mid-size car (many lots here are like that). Head-in parking becomes a lot more tricky because you don't have the distance to maneuver your vehicle into the lot.
posted by destrius at 10:10 PM on January 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


I remember being told that we should go head-in, because the front-bumper-to-front-wheel distance is uniform on cars, while the back-bumper-to-back-wheel distance varies widely. So, less chance of damage to the car or what's in front of it.

No idea if that's a real reason, that's just what I recall.
posted by zompist at 10:15 PM on January 14, 2018


I always back in, unless there's too much traffic. Americans don't expect it, however, and tend to get in the way, when you try. But it's how Japanese are taught to park, 'cause it's safer, and I can confirm, having inspected a parking lot of a Kyoto supermarket -- all the cars were facing forward.

Harder than parallel parking, which everybody does?

Or doesn't. Did you know they no longer require parallel parking on the driving test? Does your state's driving test include parallel parking? 15 don't, anymore, including CA, OR, MD and VA.
posted by Rash at 10:18 PM on January 14, 2018 [11 favorites]


Americans don't expect it, however, and tend to get in the way

One of the most annoying driving habits I encounter is the "keep moving forward even while maneuvers are being made in front of you" habit.

Like, just stop your vehicle, let the other one finish what they are doing, and then you can move forward. No need to crowd, no need to try to sneak around. You'll get there, maybe 10 seconds later. Jeebus!
posted by hippybear at 10:22 PM on January 14, 2018 [15 favorites]


I started running my regular headlights when I realized that, out here in Arizona, the midday sun glare combined with my white car makes it helpful for other drivers to see/notice me. I know this, because it makes it easier for me to see/notice other cars who similarly have their headlights fully on.

As for why backing into a parking space isn’t ideal, the reasons have been adequately stated in this thread. But suffice it to say that I have a much more intuitive feel for where the front of my car ends than I do where the back of it ends, and maneuvering the front of it into tightly boxed-in spaces is a lot easier than maneuvering the back of it into such spaces.

And given that I drive an enormous boat of a car (a ridiculously large Mercury Grand Marquis, handed down to me from my Stepdad before he passed away), there’s not a lot of wiggle room in most parking situations I encounter, anyway.
posted by darkstar at 10:22 PM on January 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


People get really passionate about this, the way people get passionate about all kinds of really stupid things. I worked at a place once where backing in vs head in was drawn along racial lines. I never noticed until someone pointed this out. Nor had I ever given it much thought. In general, I'd kinda preferred to back in, but either way, I didn't make much fuss about it. Until I realized it might be pissing people off because, of course, head in is the proper way to park a car, or something.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:27 PM on January 14, 2018


I always back into spaces, unless it's a parking lot where I can pull through. I like to exit moving forward, backing out of a space seems way more dangerous. When you back into a space you can see everything; when you back out of a space you can only see what's behind you, not the people or cars moving perpendicular to you. The hardest part of backing in is that nobody expects it because nobody else does it, so any car behind you will be confused and crowd your maneuver.
posted by peeedro at 10:28 PM on January 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


So, as a non-USian, I've always been totally perplexed with how you guys always park head-in, because it just seems wrong to me. Head out parking feels a lot easier too; I'd probably take much longer to park head in than reversing into a lot. I do wonder if its actually related to the size of the car parks, actually.... in a very small and narrow car park it's probably easier to reverse into a lot because the turning wheels are in the front.
posted by destrius at 9:58 PM on January 14 [+] [!]


As a non-USian who lives in the US- No. American's are shockingly bad at parking, most of the people in this country cannot parallel park properly much less back into a tight spot. Part of it is that they are not taught, it's not on the drivers test to back into a spot, part of it is that a lot of people drive AWD and 4WD which is a lot harder to maneuver in tight spaces and the rest is that the average driver here has 10% the skills of the average driver in Spain or Germany. The roads are so nice and wide and the parking lots are so big you can get by with poor skills and poor spatial awareness so people never learn them. If you go to a city like SF or PIttsburgh people know how to park in little places, the rest of the country not so much.
posted by fshgrl at 10:32 PM on January 14, 2018 [18 favorites]


I just realized that almost all of the parking lots I use regularly have diagonal spaces. I'm not going to back into those. That's nuts.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:42 PM on January 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


One of the most annoying driving habits I encounter is the "keep moving forward even while maneuvers are being made in front of you" habit.

No kidding. I usually back into a driveway if there's no traffic when arriving, as it's a lot easier to leave (in parking lots I try to find a drive-through spot or just head in). Having someone turn in behind me unexpectedly is annoying, as you can't count on them to not block you reversing.

Also, as a pedestrian some people will crowd you with their cars as you cross (if they're making a left across the crosswalk, for example). They're saving zero time, but forcing you to gauge your chances of getting crushed to death. Just stop and wait until it's clear to go.
posted by netowl at 10:42 PM on January 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Is it really that hard? Harder than parallel parking, which everybody does?

Hey, city slicker, out here in the real America we sometimes go decades between needing to parallel park our pickup trucks.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:44 PM on January 14, 2018 [32 favorites]


I went into state-mandated driver's ed never having touched a steering wheel (this surprised the instructor greatly); there was some time when I could only back into spots because the instructor had given me a surefire heuristic (pull forward until your shoulders line up with ???, then hard inward. It worked perfectly every time, and I did it until people told me to be a normal person and park like everyone else.

now I have forgotten the heuristic.

(anyone know such a heuristic for back-in angle parking?)
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:45 PM on January 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Because the last time I backed into my driveway, I got flustered and ended up ripping off my entire front bumper on a bush?
posted by darksasami at 10:47 PM on January 14, 2018 [6 favorites]


out here in the real America we sometimes go decades between needing to parallel park our pickup trucks.

Have you ever noticed how ads for pickup trucks never show them trying to, like, park in, say, a Trader Joes parking lot?
posted by hippybear at 10:48 PM on January 14, 2018 [34 favorites]


Oh jeez those damn Trader Joe’s parking lots don’t get me started...

But yeah, here in Phoenix, I’ve had to parallel park maybe once in, what, the past three years. I can do it, better than most of my acquaintances who seem to have a harder time with it. But that’s mainly because I lived in L.A. a few years and had to parallel park my largish car on the street nightly, so got a lot of practice.

but it’s not a skill that’s pressingly urgent where I’m living and driving now.
posted by darkstar at 10:59 PM on January 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


I swear the parking spots in the 4 Trader Joe's I've been to in my city all have extremely tight parking spots even for a compact car.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:00 PM on January 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


I back in because I never know when it's time to go. Sometimes, when it's time to go, it's time to get the hell out of there, and quickly.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:01 PM on January 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


Yeah I park my prius like a survivalist
posted by oceanjesse at 11:01 PM on January 14, 2018 [15 favorites]


I don't know about you, but I frequently have people behind me while I'm trying to park. I can only imagine how even more pleasant and cooperative those impatient folks would be if they were waiting for me to figure out how to back into a spot. If you park head in, that gets you out of their way faster.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:05 PM on January 14, 2018 [12 favorites]


The roads are so nice and wide and the parking lots are so big you can get by with poor skills and poor spatial awareness so people never learn them.

This must be (part of) it. I had to pass parallel parking and reversing etc as part of my license of course, but I only made backing in a habit once it's obvious, in a society where people will illegally park as a matter of fact, i need all the manouevring ability i can get if a damn idiot parks his car on the shoulder of the main road and cutting off my space to move out by at least 1/3. And it really is a lot more convenient to leave. Also I recall it's slightly better for your just turned-on engine to not have to twist around so much? idk.
posted by cendawanita at 11:06 PM on January 14, 2018


Note that the steering wheels on a forklift is in the rear, because then it's easier to "park" up next to your load or where you want to put your load.
posted by Harald74 at 11:07 PM on January 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can only imagine how even more pleasant and cooperative those impatient folks would be if they were waiting for me to figure out how to back into a spot

ok, at least my terminally any-space-is-a-parking-space society will at least wait while the person ahead reverse parks.
posted by cendawanita at 11:07 PM on January 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Technology will solve everything, I guess... my current vehicle has self-parking capabilities, both for parallel and also 90 degree parking. I am quite happy to hand over this job to AI automation, and it does an admirable job at it.

The car always backs into the parking spot. However, if I did decide to park nose in, and need to back out, in addition to the reverse camera, it also has something called cross-traffic alert, which is a radar on either corner of your rear bumper that scans the road for oncoming traffic on either side of the car as you're backing out - something that is totally out of view of even wide angle reverse cameras.

It also depends on how small the car parks are, I guess. Where I live a car park costs about $60,000 and it's tiny, my car is literally longer than the length of the car park box so I always stick out a little.
posted by xdvesper at 11:08 PM on January 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


I hate the back-in parkers because I inevitably end up in between them and the much more common front in parkers and then I have two drivers side doors to potentially open onto my car. In parking lots with really narrow spots sometimes you only have so much space you can leave your neighbors and if everyone parks the same direction you can reliably park a little closer to the passenger side if the spot is super tight. Do people really have so much trouble backing out of spots? I've been driving for close to 30 years and never had any kind of problem with it.
posted by JenMarie at 11:18 PM on January 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


Is it really that hard? Harder than parallel parking, which everybody does?

I have had to parallel park every day for two years now and still I fucking suck at it. Don't even get me started on the shoulder heuristic, it's never, ever fucking worked for me. Some people have more spatial issues than you do, or other people do.

Also, have you noticed that Americans tend to buy huge fuck-off cars that take up a ridiculous amount of space? When you're stuck driving a boat from the 80's because you can't afford much else, and it has the shittiest turning radius of all time, it's just easier to fucking pull in.

We have huge cars, small parking lots, and most of us live in rural areas where learning how to park like that is pointless, because they'll almost never have to use that skill. I'm not even really in a rural area and all my friends houses have crazy driveways where people park all kinds of places because its basically a fucking farm.

Also, Americans are in a fucking hurry all of the time. Every time I parallel park in front of my home, you know part of why it's so hard to do? Why I fuck up every single time? Because literally ZERO people will stop and let me fucking park. Noooooo, they have to sidle up as close as they fucking can, making it so I have to STOP in the middle of parking, because if I keep going, I will hit them, because getting past me quickly is apparently way the fuck important. Two years I've dealt with this, and it's a busy road. American's are not patient enough for someone to fucking back into much of anything, let alone a parking spot in a parking lot.

You know, it's great that Japanese kids are taught to park properly, but they tend to have much smaller vehicles, and they also tend to have way more pedestrian and bicycle traffic. It's like comparing apples and fucking oranges here. Tokyo is the most populated city on the fucking planet, on a small island-locked nation, so people knowing good parking etiquette fucking matters. America is god damned huge in comparison, and has a population much more widely spread out, due to that. How are the two situations even comparable here?

I'm fine with people backing into parking spaces. I'm not fine with people acting like it will work in this country without some other vast, serious, systemic fucking changes that don't put the fucking onus on the poor person who can barely afford their shithole beater of a car to pay up to the person who could fucking afford a car all the bells and whistles that they accidentally ran into.

In my life, ever card I've owned has been either older than me or just younger than me (I'm pushing 40, to give you an idea). Every single one of them has been bought with cash, up front. I will likely, in my life never will have the money for a car with rear-facing cameras and all that shit. I'm still running with a fucking tape deck and roll down windows here. My car is fucking held together by god damned zip ties and duct tape.

I re-iterate. Horseshit.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:27 PM on January 14, 2018 [31 favorites]


Note that the steering wheels on a forklift is in the rear, because then it's easier to "park" up next to your load or where you want to put your load.

And they spend most of their time in reverse, operators looking over one shoulder as they speed across busy loading docks.
posted by rodlymight at 11:30 PM on January 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


And there’s probably more structural integrity if the forward, load-bearing wheels are on an axle that doesn’t allow them to shift laterally for steering.
posted by darkstar at 11:37 PM on January 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


I always feel like am American anomaly when parking. If the space is tight, I always back in. It's way easier that way. And I'm a killer parallel parker. I feel like it should be on my resume or something, the way other people complain about having to do it and how they suck at it.

I'm a worse than average driver and a better than average parker. Probably not the stats I'd like to have rolled.
posted by greermahoney at 11:40 PM on January 14, 2018 [7 favorites]


Also, I'd much rather back into a spot, where there is unlikely to be a child or short person hanging out in there when my field of vision is less than ideal, than back out of a spot, where pople are very likely walking by behind me.
posted by greermahoney at 11:47 PM on January 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Parking lots are a nightmare now, I said the other day it's like people think they're landing a lunar craft. I can not imagine watching people all trying to back in.

I've lived in cities, some of the biggest in the country, most of my life. I can parallel park just fine, but it happens once every couple of years.
posted by bongo_x at 11:55 PM on January 14, 2018


for most of my adult life literally my sole skill of note was that i can head in and back in to parallel parking spots flawlessly in a single move, and then stupid fucking electric cars came along with their stupid weird awkward bonnets and now everything is ruined forever

i will stab a prius and no one can stop me
posted by poffin boffin at 11:59 PM on January 14, 2018 [8 favorites]


Is it really that hard? Harder than parallel parking, which everybody does?

For me, parallel parking is easier than (forward) 90 degree parking. To contemplate backing into a 90 degree spot is madness.
posted by Jpfed at 12:06 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


most of us live in rural areas

statistically, this is horseshit.
posted by mwhybark at 12:15 AM on January 15, 2018 [20 favorites]


the word was selected advisedly, as deadaluspark will appreciate.
posted by mwhybark at 12:17 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I drive a big car and live in London where parking spaces are small. I *always* back in, because it's the lazy option!

I just have to pull forward until my wing mirrors are two spaces past the space I want, and then I turn the wheel to full lock, hit reverse and I'm perfectly lined up with very little adjustment. Going in forward requires *thought* and *judgement* and other things I'm terrible at.
posted by grahamparks at 12:44 AM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I started backing into my driveway about a year ago, and my parking situation was already a little tricky and needed a few reconfigurations between me and my upstairs neighbor - a long pickup and an awkward boxy suv, steering wheels on the opposite side, tight with a tree to navigate. Added to that our street, while very quiet at night and on the weekends, is used as a shortcut out of downtown during the day. But I'm sold on it now, and it's encouraged me to back in whenever possible. There's something so nice about just stepping in to the vehicle, firing it up and letting it warm for a minute while I get set, go. And I think there's another safety advantage in that I'm most likely to be operating at less than full driving capabilities first thing in the morning vs. coming home, but I guess that's situational and I don't do much driving at night.

I liked reading hippybear's breakdown of the shoulder orientation when parking box trucks. I never knew it to be a technique but used it when adjusting to a right hand drive. I would lean into the road edge or dividing line with my right shoulder.

also, driving lights - if you're not wearing sunglasses, click em on is my rule
posted by mannequito at 1:13 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


My 70+-year-old father backs into parking spaces whenever he possibly can. Not, that is, in a crowded, busy parking lot (or where it's forbidden so that your license plate or parking permit can be seen), but just about everywhere else. But the company that employed him for nearly half a century also put him through driver's training updates every year or two for the sake of protecting the corporate vehicles and insurance policy. He's a better driver than most Americans.

He got a better start on the roads than most drivers do these days, too. Driver's ed was a full semester course when he was in high school. When I took it, it was a month of morning classes, split between book, simulator, and car during a summer. Rather than spend 20 minutes learning to parallel park, the three of us teamed with our on-road instructor tooled around badly in a standard transmission VW Rabbit for that experience. Consequently, I can neither parallel park nor drive a stick. Roughly 30 years later, my niece and nephews weren't even offered driver's ed in their major metropolitan school district; learning those skills was entirely on their own hook.
posted by bryon at 1:24 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I have a rear-view camera. I will be backing into parking spots at the point where the car can do this for me with zero input on my part. Having the camera is better than not having the camera, but they aren't magic. You have to be able to translate what you're seeing in the camera into actual movements of your wheel. As far as I'm concerned, the ability to do that is basically witchcraft, and I'm super confused by the guy who says he's bad at "mental rotation" but then turns on the camera and is magically able to do it. It does not work at all that way for me.

But I also don't get why it needs to? I'm pretty sure the safety point of the new camera regulation not that we'll all be backing into spaces. The thing about backing in is that if you're going forward on the exit, you're more likely to see, say, a kid or a passing car before you pull out. The camera... also makes me more likely to see the kid or the passing car before I pull out.
posted by Sequence at 1:32 AM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Here is a neat habit I have picked up in Japan: use your hazard lights to indicate "please back off, because I am about to pull into a parking space."

Because it is not the US, everyone (easily 90+%) backs into parking spaces in Japan, which makes sense because the parking lots are generally fairly tight, especially compared to the land scarcity standards of the third largest country on earth.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:03 AM on January 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


It's like self driving cars isn't it. Throw technology at the problem of shitty driving rather than trying to fix the cause.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:42 AM on January 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I started backing into parking spaces after a parking lot accident and felt weird for a while , and then heard on a podcast (freakonomics?) that spies back into parking spaces to make a quick getaway if needed, which made me feel way more badass about it.
posted by HMSSM at 2:43 AM on January 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


It's like self driving cars isn't it. Throw technology at the problem of shitty driving rather than trying to fix the cause.


Yeah, because the problem here is 'cars are needed to be active at every level of civil life', not 'there are too many cars'. The size of the cars, the amount of parking spaces, and how the car fits into the space are all totally immaterial. If you could just walk to the dang shops, or catch a train, you wouldn't need to worry.
posted by The River Ivel at 3:30 AM on January 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


I mostly back in, unless the space has carts left by lazy jerks who couldn't be bothered to walk them to a corral. That makes the space too narrow to back into safely. The reason backing in makes getting out easier when you're flanked by big Obstaclemobiles is that the distance from your seat to the front bumper is much less than the distance to the back bumper, so you can see to the sides sooner, and because the steering is much quicker going forward.

I understand that backing up is difficult for some people, like my wife.

Here's what I don't understand: people who pull head-in into a space with an empty space in front of it, but don't pull forward to be head-out in that space. What leaves me utterly confused is the person who's leaving a space that has an empty one ahead of it, that they could just drive through, but they back out instead. Why do they do that? Unobstructed view ahead to both sides, but they back up. It's nuts.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:50 AM on January 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


My brother works in an oil refinery (as an accountant) and it's considered a major safety violation if you park nose-in to the parking spot.

As in, a potentially FIREABLE OFFENCE major.

Then again it's likely that your place of work doesn't boil gasoline so your mileage may vary...
posted by Paladin1138 at 3:57 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Here's what I don't understand: people who pull head-in into a space with an empty space in front of it, but don't pull forward to be head-out in that space.

I have been guilty of doing this at the grocery store - it leaves the trunk accessible to load groceries.


...the person who's leaving a space that has an empty one ahead of it, that they could just drive through, but they back out instead.


Yeah, got nothing there. People is dumb.
posted by Paladin1138 at 4:00 AM on January 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I readily concede that I am, at best, a mediocre driver. However, I’m baffled by how rabid people in Maryland are about backing into parking spaces, especially at the grocery. Perhaps I’m odd, but I put my purchases in the back of my car. If I’m backed-in to the spot, it’s difficult (sometimes impossible) to access my hatchback. I’m perennially confused by this. Of course, I’ll park way out and walk an extra 30 seconds to avoid having to park in tight quarters, with my poor depth perception and everything.
posted by wintermind at 4:10 AM on January 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


First in Birmingham, and then here in Key West, backing into parking spaces will get you a ticket. Both states have rear tags only, and the parking enforcement folks love the revenue. With the continuous and tumultuous turnover of visitors here, they like to keep an eye on who's visiting from where, especially if out of state warrants and APBs are involved.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 4:13 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Backing in is easier - note that forklifts have the steering wheels on the back, away from the end that has to be precisely placed.
posted by rudd135 at 4:26 AM on January 15, 2018


Back in at home, front in elsewhere--best of both worlds.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:27 AM on January 15, 2018


I have to assume American car parks have massive parking spaces (which I assume they do given their cars are generally much bigger) which much wider lanes separating them compared to the UK (and probably the rest of Europe). The mechanics of rotating your car 90 degrees mean that to line up nicely driving forward you need that extra space in the lane and space. Here, where spaces are often much narrower (apparently), a lot of the time reversing into the space is the only way of actually getting into it without ten minutes of driving forward and reversing to line the car up.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:29 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Aside from trunk accessibility issues, many of the grocery stores I go to have angled parking spaces and traffic flows that strongly discourage backing in.
posted by TedW at 4:31 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


The premise isn't true in the age of backup cameras, which gives me a much wider field of view when combined with the head swivel than just a head swivel alone - and if you have a pickup, SUV or large American style sedan, your field of view will be blocked by the back ends of other pickups and SUV's, only you don't have a front-bumper-cam to show you you're about to plow into a Toyota Yaris or a granma on a mobility scooter tootling along.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:50 AM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


...the person who's leaving a space that has an empty one ahead of it, that they could just drive through, but they back out instead.

Where my parents live in Florida, there are a lot of lots where the spaces are angled, and the traffic flow is directional to accommodate that, so if you (like me) drive in and through to a front-facing spot, you end up driving against the traffic flow and tick everyone off. So I can see how backing out of a spot with nothing in front of you might become ingrained if you start from a place of one-way lots where you're not allowed to.
posted by Mchelly at 5:03 AM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Ah...the return of fancy parking.
posted by sexyrobot at 5:05 AM on January 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


Incidentally, the photograph shows cars parked closest to campus being more likely to have backed in. This is a consistent day-to-day trend and suggests that early arrivers are go-getters and more willing to do a little work at the outset so as to have a smooth and clear exit.

Or it's easier to back in when you're the first, or among the first, in the parking lot. When you're faculty or administrative staff planning to be on campus from 8 to 5, sure, back in. Nobody's stopping you and your path is largely clear. When you're one of a hundred students rushing to get to class on time, though, backing in is slowing down everyone else around you.

Incidentally, my father always backs in, and does so very quickly and confidently. But he also had job-training in doing so a million years ago when he was visiting oil fields and they were required to back into spaces in case shit went bad and they needed to get out of there very quickly. So there's an advantage.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:29 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


it's not just laziness, it's most of us can't fucking afford to deal with the outcomes.

Yeah, this. I am much more scared of denting someone’s car a fraction than I am about actually hitting a car by pulling out. I am reasonably confident I can back out slowly and not hit anyone. I am not 100% confident that I can back into the parking space such that I won’t dent anyone’s car and will be able to open my door without scratching anyone’s car, because I can’t afford to do so, because a paint job can cost thousands of dollars.
posted by corb at 5:31 AM on January 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


No matter how small or big the car, you can back in with more precision if you do it right and I surmise 💯 of the problem in the US is that to back-in requires passing the spot first which signals to the asshole behind you that the spot is open, upon which asshole will rush into the spot.

It’s all about asshole aversion. That’s why we park nose in even though it’s harder.

(Seriously y’all I owned a 2001 Ford excursion. With a behemoth that large you quickly learn that back in parking is the only reliable way to minimize damage to other cars when attempting to maneuver a vehicle into a tight parking spot)
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:44 AM on January 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


One of my least favorite things exists in Denver on 7th Street in Cap Hill: just east of Lincoln, there are angled parking spaces and you MUST back in. It’s one of the more bizarre things I’ve seen, and each time I’ve had to do it I’ve either a) completely messed it up or b) just parked parallel on a nearby street.

Oh, and as for not pulling forward to an empty spot in a lot: some hot shot might be pulling in to that spot at the same time. It’s a real crapshoot.
posted by hijinx at 5:47 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Here in Pittsburgh, garages run by the Pittsburgh Parking Authority require head-in parking. I think this is because cars in PA aren’t required to have front license plates, and they want to be able to see your plate so they can enter it into their computers and see if your meter has run out (these garages have electronic multi space meters that you enter your license plate number into). If you back into spaces in Pittsburgh, you have to remember not to do it in city-run garages. It’s easier to always park the same way.
posted by Anne Neville at 5:49 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Datapoint from the Netherlands (Groningen, to be specific): I rarely see a backed-in parked car here. It's almost all nose-first.
posted by Pendragon at 5:55 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Obviously not everyone here does it, but I find that backing in is more common in Canada than back home in the US. My partner is often puzzled as to why I don't do it. Well, I have never had to and it's not way we are taught in the US. Of course, I'm also of the opinion everyone should have to retake a driving course at least every five years because so much can change about your vision, health, etc. I think there is a huge error in getting your license more or less for life in your teen years and never having to make sure you're refreshed on those skills.
posted by Kitteh at 5:56 AM on January 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


The main reason I back-in is that it makes leaving easier. You never know when you'll need a quick get-away.

*shifty eyes*
posted by Fizz at 6:05 AM on January 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I've never owned a car but have to drive rentals for work about once a month. So while I've got plenty of mileage under my belt, what I don't have is the daily parking reps. That plus never being in the same car twice means I am terrible at parking. I had a trip recently where the site I was visiting required back-in parking on their lot, and I triple checked that my rental had a reverse camera. But what I end up doing more often than anything is just parking at the far end of the lot where no one else is and just avoid the worry about other cars. Finding two facing spots that are both free is the best - you can pull in forwards, drive straight through to the far spot, and then when you're done pull out forwards as well.
posted by thecjm at 6:16 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Have you ever noticed how ads for pickup trucks never show them trying to, like, park in, say, a Trader Joes parking lot?
I'm actually surprised how good most pickup drivers I see in suburban parking lots are at backing into spots.
posted by howling fantods at 6:19 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have to assume American car parks have massive parking spaces (which I assume they do given their cars are generally much bigger) which much wider lanes separating them compared to the UK (and probably the rest of Europe).

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Well, your problem here is assuming common sense or any motivation other than greed. Yes, we have enormous parking lots, just acres of asphalt. But there's clearly some kind of industry-standard minimum size for lanes and width of parking spaces, which is basically almost but not quite large enough for an average sedan, and every single damn parking lot has their lanes and spaces marked at that minimum so they can cram every last possible parking space onto the enormous lot. It's ridiculous, the lots aren't full even on Black Friday. So maneuvering around these enormous parking lots is still a pain in the ass.

IOW, you don't really think of "designing parking lots" as a thing, but then you realize it is, and that Americans are shit at it. Which doesn't help our parking skills or lack thereof.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:20 AM on January 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


In my country (an island in the Caribbean), roads and parking spaces are often narrower than they are in America, and you see a lot of both types of parking (outside of certain car parks that require reverse parking for some reason). It's harder to nose into a narrow spot, and my impression is that most of the sloppy parking I come across is forward parking. Struggle parkers and young men who think being young men makes their driving skills unassailable always show themselves up doing it. Personally, causing an accident - scraping a car or hitting another person - is one of the things I'm most anxious about in the world, which is saying something. I've always agonised over my parking. It took time to learn how to reverse into a space, but I feel I have much more control that way and I'm less likely to make a mistake. It's also just the way I am: I prefer to have something tricky behind me rather than ahead of me, and I always assume a crisis is on the horizon and I'll need to get (away from) somewhere fast.

And I'm not convinced by attempts upthread to attribute Americans' preference for forward parking to not being able to afford to buy nice cars or make a mistake. I love my car, but it's 20 years old, very well-used, and in many ways a heap of junk. Every dimple in the road feels like a gaping pothole. No one over 130 pounds can sit in its back seat without causing trouble. I'm increasingly suspicious of its airbags. It certainly doesn't have anything like rear-view cameras, which make me feel like I'm riding in the Starship Enterprise when I find myself in a car that does have them. But, the idea of hurting someone or causing damage I can't afford eats at me. So... I reverse park. It's safer, once you know how.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:27 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


My brother works in an oil refinery … and it's considered a major safety violation if you park nose-in to the parking spot.

Yup, that's a utility thing too. Backing out of a spot is considered loss of visual control, and considered unsafe. If you work with enough utility folks, you'll always meet a few who 1) insist on a 360 walk around before every vehicle movement; or 2) expect a passenger to hop out and be a spotter at any parking situation. Yes, they do wear hi-vis vests everywhere, even to go to lunch …

(Was trying to find an example policy document to link to, but the best I could find is this early morning Google streetview of the Ontario utility safety training association's parking lot with just one car — and it's backed in, of course.)

Certain power facilities (especially ones that work with sour gas) have a bug-out parking procedure similar to military ones: face out, vehicles unlocked, keys in ignition. It's mandatory, as when the H2S siren goes off you've got seconds to get out or be very dead.

Despite learning to drive in Scotland, I still can't parallel park for shit because I don't have to do it too often in Toronto. Backing up in a Prius (even with reversing camera) is shit due to poor rear visibility, silence that pedestrians can't hear you coming (not that anyone takes any notice of reversing lights), and a fucking reversing beeper you can only hear inside the car. Yeah.
posted by scruss at 6:31 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


it's not just laziness, it's most of us can't fucking afford to deal with the outcomes.

Yeah, this.


I've worked in a number of places where there were site safety rules (think mines, drill rigs, industrial sites, etc). All of them required back in parking because it is very much safer. Especially if people are going to be leaving at the same time, perhaps in a rush. Such as a site evacuation!

But even in the normal world, the outcomes of a mishap backing out of a parking space into a blind spot are so much greater than the possibility of a scrape or bump. Think a pedestrian, particularly a less aware or mobile one (child, elderly person). You're also up against moving vehicles (that you can't see because of blind spots and that your position is far forward), versus when backing in when you are avoiding stationary objects (which you can generally see with side-view mirrors).

What I'm saying is that while the perception of risk may be higher for backing in, the reality is that the risk (both chance of occurrence and consequence) is greater. As the linked article cites, the AMA and IIHS agree with this.

Can't afford to deal with the outcomes of a backing-in mishap? The outcomes of a backing-out mishap are (often) much worse (perhaps fatal), and there's a greater chance of them.
posted by bumpkin at 6:33 AM on January 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Is it really that hard? Harder than parallel parking, which everybody does?


Everybody? I know people who live in the suburbs who refuse to drive into the city just out of fear that they're going to have to parallel park. Rural and suburban people can go decades without having the park on a street.
posted by octothorpe at 6:38 AM on January 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


Also agree that access to the trunk is a key factor. This is particularly a problem with vans/SUVs, whose liftgates need enough space to swing open. Not to mention trying to get a large item in or a shopping cart full of groceries close enough (between parked cars) to unload it.

Also, a lot of parking lots are designed to require front-first parking with diagonal parking spaces (although reverse the arrows and everyone can back in much more easily.)
posted by howling fantods at 6:39 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm a noser-inner, but my Subaru Outback has a rear cross-traffic alert system that, along with the rear-view camera, does remarkably well at helping to back out safely. Very often, I'll put the car in reverse, the alert will sound, and a few seconds later, a car will pass by. It's gotten to the point where I'm terrified of backing out in a car that doesn't have this feature (so maybe it's time to try backing in?).
posted by jessssse at 6:47 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


In my – French – workplace underground parking lot, it's strictly forbidden to back in, on the grounds that exhaust will stain the wall. Is that a thing elsewhere?
posted by susuman at 6:51 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yup, that's a utility thing too. Backing out of a spot is considered loss of visual control, and considered unsafe. If you work with enough utility folks, you'll always meet a few who 1) insist on a 360 walk around before every vehicle movement; or 2) expect a passenger to hop out and be a spotter at any parking situation. Yes, they do wear hi-vis vests everywhere, even to go to lunch …

Or putting down a traffic cone on the oncoming traffic side of the vehicle every time it's parked, even if it's in a parking lot like my local cable company requires.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:53 AM on January 15, 2018


At my office, I generally park back-in, because I park in the "compact car" section, which has smaller spaces than the rest of the lot. That section happens to be closer to the front door, so a large number of persons driving vehicles that could not be in any way described as "compact" park there as well. If I back in to park, I can put my passenger side door a couple of inches closer to my (front-in parked) neighbor's passenger door, thus making it possible for me to get out of the car in the space between me and the car on the other side, as one or both vehicles are likely impinging slightly on the spot I have chosen. For the most part, because USA, there will be one occupant per vehicle, so the fact that this makes the passenger doors on two vehicles inaccessible is irrelevant.

I learned this the hard way, as I have once or twice parked head-in and had a subsequent large vehicle park too close for me to be able to get into my driver's side door. I am no longer lithe enough to climb over the gearshift from the passenger side into a drivers seat, as was my solution to this problem when I was younger. So I had to put the car into neutral, release the parking brake, put one hand on the wheel and the other shoulder on the frame and push my car backwards until my door cleared enough for me to get in. (My litheness has decreased with age much more dramatically than my strength.)

I suppose I could also solve this problem by parking farther away in the non-compact section, but darn it, I actually do have a compact car and refuse to cede the space I have thereby earned.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:21 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Of all the cars that are parked, facing either way, over the course of a year on average about one percent of those people will die. The ones who backed in won't get the benefit of pulling straight out, and will leave that bit of time on the table when they cash out. That one percent house advantage for the universe at large against the driver is not far from the dealer's advantage in Casino Blackjack. And over time the player will always lose.

That's why I don't sort my socks until I'm ready to put them on. But in parking, I guess I'm just an irrationally optimistic lottery player so I back in.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:26 AM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


The only reason I back into parking spots is because I'm Batman.
posted by mikelieman at 7:29 AM on January 15, 2018


This entire thread, and not one "What's the point? Everywhere you go has valet." I'm disappointed.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:31 AM on January 15, 2018 [18 favorites]


For those who cannot fathom why people park in a way that makes accessing their trunk harder - some of us throw our groceries right on the seat. I know, I know - anathema. But my trunk is small and full of things like my roadside emergency kit and my earthquake bug out bag so...
posted by greermahoney at 7:32 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can't believe that in this post, and the resulting conversation, not one person has pointed out IT IS OFTEN ILLEGAL TO BACK INTO A PARKING SPACE. I once got a parking ticket for backing into a spot in some tiny Podunk Midwestern town and I've never let go of that anger. Lots of municipalities have ordinances against it. Their reasons always stink.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:33 AM on January 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I don't understand why it's anything more than a preference. There is still a backing event, it just occurs at the beginning or at the end. The outcome is exactly the same. There is no difference in safety. Of course, there are requirements for company vehicle drivers, but my company also has silly requirements for me that I don't follow at home.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:37 AM on January 15, 2018


Their reasons always stink.

Are you in a state that doesn't require license plates on the front of the car? I could see that as a major reason. ALPRs are only going to make it a stronger case.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:39 AM on January 15, 2018


Parking front-in makes it easier to reach the trunk. If you don't need access to the trunk, then why are you driving a car at all?--Phssthpok

Yes this is key. I made the mistake of backing in to the spot at a Costco (big-box store) and when I got back to my car with a full basket of food and things I immediately realized my mistake. Cars were now close to both sides and my trunk, which meant I had to carry big things, shimmying between cars and trying to angle them into my trunk. I felt and looked like a big idiot and certainly never did that again. At a hardware store, where you might be buying a ladder, or large plywood, it would be simply impossible to load the car.

Maybe in Russia and Japan they are playing this shimmying game when loading their cars and are just avoiding hardware stores altogether, and this incredible inefficiency is no doubt having a noticeable effect on their GNP. Maybe someday they'll learn better like I did.
posted by eye of newt at 7:43 AM on January 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I used to be great at parking, parallel, nose in, back in - although honestly I hardly ever did just because it never occurred to me -whatever, and then I got the Giant Truck. Parking it in any way is pure misery but parking lots are the worst. The spaces are never quite big enough and I feel like I’m going to block someone in or bang into things no matter what I do. So I just try to park as far away as possible and walk and it’s still not foolproof. California is hands down the most difficult state to park in that I’ve encountered so far. The lots are comparatively tiny - what is up with that, state that was mostly built after cars? - and they’re filled to the brim. The other drivers are in a hurry and they want you to know it. Here in Monterey the other day somebody nosed in to the parking space I was currently backing into (this was on the street, not a lot) hopped out, slammed the door and walked away while I was still partly in the space, frozen with righteous indignation.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:44 AM on January 15, 2018


i love these threads because they show exactly how entrenched and change-averse people are about cars, even otherwise generally somewhat reasonable mefi users who generally listen to evidence-based reasoning and are generally concerned about the greater good

(and when i say "i love these threads" i mean "these threads make me want to say 'fuck it' and start drinking heavily")
posted by entropicamericana at 7:52 AM on January 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


Parking front-in makes it easier to reach the trunk. If you don't need access to the trunk, then why are you driving a car at all?

Because sometimes there's no public transit options? When I was driving, it wasn't even that there was an inconvenient and unreliable public transit option, but there was literally no feasible option that got me from home to work. And on the way home I'd hit the grocery store so I don't have to make a separate trip later. I usually parked far enough out that I could pull through (I suck at backing up and had no rear camera) and not have to worry about surrounding cars blocking access to my trunk if needed. I'd rather have had public transit, but if I had to deal with vast parking lot wastelands I was at least going to make the best of it.

Also, pulling through an empty spot to leave *can* be a bit risky if you drive a small car and are surrounded by SUVs: it can be hard to see if there's someone speeding down aisle for that empty spot your pulling into.

And yeah, the part of the reason why I've never developed the skill to reverse into a spot is infrastructure (angled spots) and dealing with other drivers. When I'm in situations where I can't park way out and pull forward, it's generally crowded and busy. Even if the person behind me isn't trying to be a jerk they'll crowd because they aren't expecting someone to drive by a spot they intend to park in.

* It blew my mind in Seattle to see angled spots that you're supposed to reverse into, so I know it can be down. We just need to get all the retailers here to switch the one arrows in the angled parking lots and we'll learn how.
posted by ghost phoneme at 7:54 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


"As a non-USian who lives in the US- No. American's are shockingly bad at parking, most of the people in this country cannot parallel park properly much less back into a tight spot. Part of it is that they are not taught, it's not on the drivers test to back into a spot, part of it is that a lot of people drive AWD and 4WD which is a lot harder to maneuver in tight spaces and the rest is that the average driver here has 10% the skills of the average driver in Spain or Germany."

This. In Germany, during driver's ed, they wouldn't even let us off the practice lot until we had mastered three things: the clutch, parallel parking and backing into a spot. The latter two had to be accomplished without multiple adjustments. Both modes of parking were part of the final test for the license and you better ended up nicely centered when backing in or they might fail you. At my work here in the US we have a good mix of backers-in and nosers-in. The only cars I see parked badly, at angles and/or wildly off center inevitably belong to the nose-in category. So do most of the cars that almost cause collisions when leaving. Backing out into potential traffic you can't see is way less safe than backing into a spot from traffic you can see.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 7:56 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


In Germany, during driver's ed, they wouldn't even let us off the practice lot until we had mastered three things: the clutch…

Most US citizens would fail the first part and never make it to the parking maneuvers.
posted by TedW at 8:01 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I don't understand trunkgroceries. It means you have to trot up to the car with a cart (UGH) and open the trunk and service it with all these bags of crap, then shepherd the cart into the "cart corral" (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!), and THEN open the human door and get in and deal with trying not to kill anybody while you're getting out of the lot. Then deal with the trunk AGAIN when you get done ferrying the groceries to your destination. I like to get in with the bags in my right hand and sling them into the passenger seat as I slide in myself, then exit with all the bags in one go. Anytime I shop hard enough to need to put the crap in the backseat or god forbid the trunk, I feel like Florence Henderson on my way to making some chicken that has a certain Wessonality. No. NO. I hate it.

I can't back in, but I do pull through to fancypark anytime there's an opportunity--and in angled lots, you just jack the wheel hard to the left so you can exit with the flow of traffic. You just have to slow down on your way into the fancyspot in case some Florence is on their way to screw everything up nosing into the same spot so as to leave the trunk accessible so they can go in the store and buy family-sized Wesson and a depressingly huge package of boneless skinless breasts.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:03 AM on January 15, 2018


generally somewhat reasonable mefi users who generally listen to evidence-based reasoning and are generally concerned about the greater good

Well the evidence is pretty freakin' thin in this case. "Every year, some 300 people are killed and 18,000 are injured by drivers who are backing up, usually in driveways or parking lots." Even if we take these numbers at face value, that's a pretty low number of deaths and injuries from a very common event, and since 76% park head in, there is no evidence to suggest those numbers would be 0 if people backed in.

Also most people are more concerned about hitting other vehicles backing in, which they don't give any stats on. According to these stats "But the National Safety Council found on average at least 60,000 are injured and 500 or more die in the 50,000 plus crashes in parking lots and garages every year." - injuries are about 3X as high and deaths are 2X as much just driving in a parking lot. 2016 stats . And remember this just covers parking lots, which doesn't include people's personal garages and home parking spaces where a number of backing injuries and deaths occur.

Again, the evidence that backing in is legitimately safer isn't presented.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:03 AM on January 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


In Chicago, I backed into spaces when parallel parking. That was considered normal, and other drivers expected and accommodated it.

In Los Angeles, trying to back into a parking space gets you honked at, yelled at, blocked by people who pull up behind your rear bumper and otherwise not accommodated -- to the point that I only back into parallel spaces on side streets when nobody is around.

Los Angeles also has lots of people shoving into elevators and trains before other people get off, unlike my experience everywhere else I have ever been

Doing the "normal" thing in the US is sometimes socially and functionally optimal even when it is not the most efficient or safe approach.
posted by davejay at 8:13 AM on January 15, 2018


Los Angeles also has lots of people shoving into elevators and trains before other people get off, unlike my experience everywhere else I have ever been
The next time this happens, fight back passive-aggressively. Wait for these idiots to finish forcing their way in. Let everyone who is getting off the elevator get off and when you enter. Face the wrong direction, away from the doors towards the wall. It'll make everyone uncomfortable during the ride. It's a glorious feeling.
posted by Fizz at 8:21 AM on January 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


First in Birmingham, and then here in Key West, backing into parking spaces will get you a ticket. Both states have rear tags only, and the parking enforcement folks love the revenue.

There are several towns on Long Island (Garden City and Farmingdale for sure, but there are others) where backing into a parking space will earn a ticket. My wife once received one for $25 in Garden City and another for $55 in Farmingdale. NYC has front and rear license plates.
posted by zarq at 8:22 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


In Chicago, I backed into spaces when parallel parking. That was considered normal, and other drivers expected and accommodated it.

I wasn't aware that parallel parking was even possible without backing into the space. But yes, in Chicago people will give you the room (most of the time) to parallel park, even on some madhouse street like Ashland.

But they still won't give you the room in a parking lot to back in, because wtf who backs into a parking space at a Dominick's?
posted by dis_integration at 8:26 AM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


i take every possible opportunity when driving to pull my front bumper to within inches of the vehicle in front of me so any of this nonsense about backing into parking spaces confuses and infuriates me. you need to understand that i am a big important person with big important things to do and you taking an extra 10 seconds to park is a personal affront to me and my loved ones who will no longer speak to me
posted by indubitable at 8:26 AM on January 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


This entire thread, and not one "What's the point? Everywhere you go has valet." I'm disappointed.

Are you sure you're in the right place?


Angle-parking makes sense at the curb on the side of a street. Angle-parking in an open parking lot is idiocy. My discussion of pull-through parking above assumed 90-degree spaces. Yesterday, in such a lot -- a nearly empty one -- is when I watched somebody back out of a space they could have driven forward out of. There were no cars within 5 spaces of them in any direction.

I have only a back license plate, because Governor Dukakis wanted to save some manufacturing costs. I have never heard even a whisper from any law-enforcement agent that back-in parking was something they didn't like. I also have a hatchback, where I put my groceries. When backing-in, I leave room behind my car so I can open the hatch. The worst case is when somebody parks too close behind me. Then I have to move my car forward a little to get the hatch open. It really doesn't take much room; much less than the tailgate of my '57 Chevy wagon did.

The only place I've encountered a ban on back-in parking was at an apartment complex, where they were concerned that exhaust gases would enter below-grade apartments next to the parking lot.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:28 AM on January 15, 2018


In Germany, during driver's ed, they wouldn't even let us off the practice lot until we had mastered three things: the clutch…

What is this "clutch" you speak of?
posted by octothorpe at 8:35 AM on January 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Yes this is key. I made the mistake of backing in to the spot at a Costco (big-box store) and when I got back to my car with a full basket of food and things I immediately realized my mistake. Cars were now close to both sides and my trunk, which meant I had to carry big things, shimmying between cars and trying to angle them into my trunk.

It would have been so much easier1 if you had parked nose-in.

1Never enough Seinfeld references
posted by howling fantods at 8:35 AM on January 15, 2018


At the Girl Scout camps around here, it's required to park nose-out. I presume it's for making a quick getaway in case of emergency; we also have to run through what to do if there's a flood, earthquake, inquisitive bear, etc.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:36 AM on January 15, 2018


95% of my parking is done at work and at the grocery store. At work, I arrive early enough that I can pull-through the double spots, parking nose out without the work of backing into the spot. At the grocery store, I park nose in (always in a spot next to the carriage return!) because I couldn't put my groceries away otherwise. My doctors' offices all have diagonal parking and no way I'm going to back in to those.
posted by Ruki at 8:40 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Apropos of nothing, that Seinfeld episode is also a good example of food cost inflation as you can clearly see the price of carrots (4 lbs for $.99 and soda which is $1.99 for a 6 pack. ) It was shot in 1992 in Manhattan, one of the most expensive places in the US for shopping purposes. Last time I checked at the grocery store, the cheapest I could find were $0.82 per pound (and not in Manhattan), so 4 lbs of carrots would be $3.28. The CPI inflation calculator says that $.99 in 1992 is $1.77 in 2017, so this says something about both the supply of carrots and demand since 1992.

Soda on the other hand - $1.99 for a 6 pack (I think) of soda in 1992 correlates to $3.55 today, and it's pretty easy to find brand name soda in 6 packs for $2.97, and also easy to find a 6 pack of 16 oz bottles for about $3.55. Store brand is way cheaper, about $1.50 - or the same price as in 1992.

Just in case you were wondering why people drink more soda (and processed food in general) and less vegetables.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:05 AM on January 15, 2018 [11 favorites]


This entire thread, and not one "What's the point? Everywhere you go has valet." I'm disappointed.

how can one be expected to know the behavior of one's driver and footmen once one has arrived at one's destination, how preposterous
posted by poffin boffin at 9:10 AM on January 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


I don't understand trunkgroceries.

...how.... how do you shop? Do you just go to the store every time you need a single thing and walk out with only a few items? How do you have the time? When I go grocery shopping, it's an ordeal involving about a 15 minute drive out of my way each way, plus at least half an hour to an hour as I inevitably wind up distracted and ambling around the shop to remind myself what I need. Those 30 minutes add up. My partner's not as... overwhelmingly ADHD as I am, but them "running into the grocery on the way home" inevitably adds about 45 minutes to their commute home.

(And god, if I tried to back into every spot, I'd get hit in half the parking lots I routinely use. Especially during busy times. Angled parking lots assuming that you are pulling in nose forward are very popular in Austin--offhand, I can think of lots I visit routinely that use them at the gym, both the two nearest grocers, the Costco, and my old library--and I like to not go the wrong way down the lane if I can avoid it. As a countermeasure, some of the campus street parking is angled back-in, and while I use it occasionally I'd actually rather use the parallel parking spots. (They're also closer to my office.)

Besides, my spatial senses are absolute shit. Like, more so than your average American shit--as in, I try to leave very long distances between my car and other cars when turning; as in, I routinely accidentally back into people and objects; as in, I frequently have a terrible time judging distances. If I back slowly out of a spot, I can usually trust that as long as I am very slow and I look carefully around me, people will see me and stop to let me out or at least not hit me. If I'm backing into a spot, I am at the mercy of my own spatial skills. Honestly, between the spatial shit and the ADHD, I'd really rather not drive at all--but that's not a bloody option here in Texas, is it?
posted by sciatrix at 9:30 AM on January 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


poffin boffin, kirth gerson: Clueless.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 9:55 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I was impressed with the Bullitt park job. I fully expected that to include the typical city bumper-touching front and back that lets one find the middle of the space.
posted by MtDewd at 9:55 AM on January 15, 2018


Why?

Because often enough, it’s illegal.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:11 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


darksasami said: Because the last time I backed into my driveway, I got flustered and ended up ripping off my entire front bumper on a bush?

I hope you feel the waves of empathy flowing onto you from me, since I once did the same thing. I pull through. If I'm at a place where I can't do that, I remember which parking spots have the best visibility for backing out. I realize that it's a miracle I have any room in my brain for things other than the layouts of the parking lots I visit.
posted by acrasis at 10:28 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


Los Angeles also has lots of people shoving into elevators and trains before other people get off, unlike my experience everywhere else I have ever been

You've clearly never ridden the Delhi Metro. Every stop, every open train-car door is a battle between crowds of passengers trying to push their way in, and those trying to exit.

...how.... how do you shop? Do you just go to the store every time you need a single thing and walk out with only a few items?

Well, exactly -- that's what city living's all about.
posted by Rash at 10:35 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I live in the 31st-largest metropolitan area in the USA. Who are you calling country living?

And how many people in the US have grocery or convenience store densities such that that kind of shopping pattern is an option?
posted by sciatrix at 10:52 AM on January 15, 2018


Obviously not everyone here does it, but I find that backing in is more common in Canada than back home in the US.

This is definitely true! As a Canadian who doesn't back in to spots, I often feel like the odd one out. I've even seen a newspaper article (I think it was on The Star's website) that chided drivers for parking "incorrectly" when they don't back in. It doesn't make sense to me; I figure it's easier to not hit a big empty space than it is to not hit two cars when backing in to a spot.
posted by barnoley at 10:53 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I once had a guy in an SUV back into me while I was standing in an empty parking space trying to get into the car in the next space that wasn't actually mine. I was engrossed in figuring out why "my" door would not unlock, and apparently he did not see me either.

I hate when people back into a space when I'm behind them in a parking lot, waiting to get past. It takes longer than pulling in head first, which is annoying. Plus, there is a bit of danger that when the parking person drives past the parking space to maneuver their vehicle in, and the person behind them does not realize at first that they mean to park and follows them past the intended space, they could easily get hit if the parking driver does not see them. There have been occasions where I have had to back up in the parking lot because of this, which is more fun if there is a line of other cars waiting behind me.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:58 AM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I park front in because I've been parking front in. Which is a bit of a chicken-and-egg answer, but to expand: I've been driving regularly for 20+ years. I've parked front-in, and backed out, probably at least 20,000 times, by my estimation. I've probably backed in less than 100 times, maybe even less than 50. Being very experienced at one, and very inexperienced at the other, probably makes it safer for me to continue parking front in.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:03 AM on January 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


I’ve been driving a huge twenty-year-old pickup truck built for farm use for the past six years and backing in is easy because my old truck is all right angles, has a glasshouse like a fish tank, and I see all four corners as I park or pull out. Given that the rear is tall enough to hide a shopping cart, backing out seems stupid, and I’d much rather get out easy than get in easy (see also: idiots who park near the entrance of, say, Ikea, Home Depot, or any other big box store with a large geographical separation between entrance and exit).

This week, I finally returned to my natural automotive habitat, a tiny car designed and built by speakers of a romance language, and bought myself a Fiat 500, which is so small and nimble compared to the standard American parking spot I have to keep reminding myself that I should probably not Tokyo Drift my way into my spots...but of course, my car, which I’ve named Gian Carlo Menotti after an old friend and which may be haunted by the ghost of its former owner, a nice old Jewish man named Maury who wants me to wear my seatbelt and always signal well in advance, is so effing adorable that I’m parking in the void at the other end of the parking lot so I can leer at it like a perv on my long walk with groceries.

Americans are miserable to share a road with, because basically all the training they’ll ever get is a half-semester course taught by a bored gym teacher in school, after which they never, ever seem interested in learning another thing about driving or otherwise managing a ton of violence-prone steel in a crowded human environment, since they’re all huffy about how busssssy and difficult their lives are and are thus in too much of a hurry to do anything properly except being spectators to life. I love my country, but we’re a bunch of panicked, blinkered herd animals on the road (which is why I’ve reluctantly curtailed my motorcycling, alas).
posted by sonascope at 11:09 AM on January 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Hi, Sciatrix! I go to the county farmar on Saturday with this massive boat'n'tote and jam it full of hellishly expensive stuff. It's more bearable to shop there than at the grocery store because of the options limitation. You just buy what you see until you run out of money or room in the giant tote. At the grocery you have to make choices, and I can't stand that part. Which are more evil, tomatoes from Plant City almost certainly picked by slaves or tomatoes trucked all the way to Florida from Canada? Thank you for not making me think about that, Farmer Jordan! I go to the store for olive oil, toilet paper, nuts, and coffee maybe a couple times a month. I hate the goddamn grocery store so muuuuuuuch.

I also cannot judge distance or back up without veering all over the place. Last time I had to parallel park, there was nobody in front of me and I fishtailed back to what I thought was reasonable and I ended up with 3/4 of a car length between me and the car behind me and a front wheel half in the road. Meanwhile somebody'd already parked in front of me with about two inches space. If I tried to fix it, I was just going to end up with the entire car in the road or the ditch, or wedged under the car behind me, so I just got out and ran. When I came back, there was my clownparked car sticking out a mile among all the perfectly parked cars. Ugh. God.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:13 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


From TFA: When it comes to parallel parking for a space on the street, everybody backs in,

I back in when parallel parking if it's only a single empty space. If there are two or more consecutive empty spaces (I know, it will be shocking to some of you who live in megalopolises that such things exist), I just pull forward through the rearward space(s) into the most forward space.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:25 AM on January 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


In Germany, during driver's ed, they wouldn't even let us off the practice lot until we had mastered three things: the clutch…

What is this "clutch" you speak of?


Some fancy German cars have three pedals instead of two. This is because in Germany, you’re allowed to drive like 200 kilometers per hour (200 miles an hour), so sometimes you need some extra braking, so they give you an extra pedal.

It’s called the “clutch” pedal because if you ever push it your loved ones will clutch each other in terror.

Some very cheap cars also had clutch pedals in the old days, because it cost too much money to hook all the brakes up to the same pedal.

HTH! {|}
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:26 AM on January 15, 2018 [11 favorites]


Last time I had to parallel park, there was nobody in front of me and I fishtailed back to what I thought was reasonable and I ended up with 3/4 of a car length between me and the car behind me and a front wheel half in the road. Meanwhile somebody'd already parked in front of me with about two inches space. If I tried to fix it, I was just going to end up with the entire car in the road or the ditch, or wedged under the car behind me, so I just got out and ran. When I came back, there was my clownparked car sticking out a mile among all the perfectly parked cars. Ugh. God.

Well, it's a learned skill. If you're not used to doing it on a regular basis, it can be harder to master. But if you had to do it every day on busy city streets, you'd become very good at it very quickly.

I live on a two way street that is just wide enough for cars to park on either side and two moving cars to pass each other. It's busy enough that there's usually someone pulling up behind us on the street when we park. So we have learned to parallel park our car in one or two smooth movements, and have it against the curb when we exit.

When we have friends visit who live in the suburbs, they tend to park a good foot or more away from the curb. Or at a bit of an angle. It's just not what they're used to. I envy their driveways. :)

The rear view camera is also really helpful. You can see where the curb and other car is, and after parking a few times the distances/perspectives become obvious. It also allows us to back into spaces easily, and look out for walking pedestrians in parking lots when reversing out of spaces. New Yorkers generally do not care if you and your giant, heavy metal car are in reverse and moving when they walk past its rear end. They simply assume you will brake for them. I'm convinced that camera saves lives. It's a wonderful feature.
posted by zarq at 11:46 AM on January 15, 2018


I'm no engineer, but it seems like one-way angled parking in decent-sized parking lots allows you to squeeze in more parking spaces. You can have narrower lanes since they are not accommodating two-way traffic and you need less room to back out (also theoretically only have to worry about traffic coming from one direction when backing out).
posted by Preserver at 11:50 AM on January 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I still can't get the hang of using a backup camera to park. I've never owned a car with one but I've rented or borrowed cars with them and just can't figure out how to use them. I've been backing up using mirrors for thirty-five years and trying to flip my head around to watching a non-reversed image to guide me just hurts my brain. I guess if I owned one, I'd figure it out eventually.
posted by octothorpe at 11:53 AM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I love my country, but we’re a bunch of panicked, blinkered herd animals on the road (which is why I’ve reluctantly curtailed my motorcycling, alas).

I suspect things are going to change drastically in the next 10-15 years.

My current vehicle has radar and a bunch of features that make it safer. (During our last snowstorm, I started the car before clearing it of snow, and an alert popped up in the dashboard hud saying that the radar was blocked and I should really unblock it. One of the oddest (and coolest!) alerts I've ever seen.)

The radar is used in a number of different ways. Little lights in the side mirrors indicate when something (car, bike, person) is in the driver's blind spot. If you ignore the lights and try to move over, the car will beep (internally) at you. If you continue, a big graphic shows up on the dashboard, and I think the wheel vibrates, but I haven't tested it that far. If you're approaching a stopped car (or other obstacle) too quickly, the car will beep (again, it's an internal sound -- you only hear it inside the car) and flash "BRAKE" at you. If you turn a setting in the braking system on, the car will slow down for you if it thinks you're going to hit something. A forward collision prevention system.

You can set the car so that it will beep at you, then steer you back if you stray from your lane or are going to run off the road. It's called a "Driver attention monitor" and the setting looks like a coffee cup. Cruise control can automatically slow down if the car in front of you isn't traveling at your speed or if one moves into your lane. This can be really annoying if you use it on a curvy road, because it reacts to cars that are in front of you. If you are taking a turn, it may slow down when the radar picks up a car in the next lane.

These features were standard on the lowest models of this particular car, and I'm hoping that most of them will become standard on every vehicle at some point. Gotta say, I'm in love with the blind spot detection in particular. It's making me a much safer driver.
posted by zarq at 12:02 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I have to wear special goggles when I drive to prevent my eyeballs from falling on the floormats of my car as I eyeroll when watching some skill-less jagoff try to park. Seriously people, go practice in an empty lot sometime to learn how to parallel park or back into parking spaces. I've known six year old kart racers with more driving skills than some of these fools.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:05 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


My understanding of angled-stall parking lots was always that it's meant to couple with one-way lanes servicing them, so that traffic snakes through the lot in alternating directions on alternating rows, and this simplifies things by preventing back-ins (unless you want to "swim upstream") and reducing "that's my spot" Costanza-esque screaming matches. I mean, I have no strong preference for angled-stall lots versus straight ones, but it also never occurred to me to scoff at either.
posted by axiom at 2:04 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Purposeful Grimace, that is exactly why I ended up with half a tire in the road and made some poor kid get a $35 ticket because I took up two carlengths: I am hyperaware what a skill-free jagoff fool I am when I try to park and even more aware of you specialgoggled eyerollers watching my parking performance art and puking up your steelcuts from sheer derision.

Do you guys all have automobiles with just absolutely wretched turn radii, or what? You don't have to "swim upstream" to leave an angled parking spot in which you've parked facing out. Your vehicle is equipped with steering technology that should allow you to turn the wheels so that you go the right direction.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:14 PM on January 15, 2018


If you insist on backing into an angle-parking spot, then you're just as much a slave to your convention as we back-outers are to ours.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:01 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


"both sides! think about it!"
posted by entropicamericana at 3:06 PM on January 15, 2018


Nose-inners or nose-outers, surely the one thing we can all agree on is that people who park outside the lines and make it impossible to get into the adjoining space are THE worst.
posted by Preserver at 3:09 PM on January 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I hate backing in and I hate waiting for other people to back in. Plus it's an absolutely ridiculous suggestion that we do it at the supermarket (where, I'll wager, the majority of parking happens) - how am I meant to navigate the trolley to the rear of the vehicle and load all my groceries into the boot?

No thanks. I'd rather run over whatever deadbeat is milling around behind a reversing car than go through all that hassle.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:22 PM on January 15, 2018


"both sides! think about it!"

I’ve parked my car from both sides now;
From back and front, and still, somehow,
The parking space, I don’t recall;
I cannot find my car at all
posted by Sys Rq at 3:28 PM on January 15, 2018 [18 favorites]




I once worked at a place that did websites. We had a client that wanted us to come by for an in person demo. We get there and all the parking spots are pull in types. And then we see a signs everywhere. BACK IN ONLY.

Turns out when you're a dynamite factory, getting the hell out as fast as possible is a thing.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:49 PM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I cannot find my car at all

I've been parking in the massive parking lot at a massive corporate headquarters for about a week now and discovered that if I'm using bluetooth in my car, Apple Maps (and apparently Google Maps) will save my parked car's location. This has made it much easier to find my car in a poorly-lit parking lot in a giant area that I'm not totally familiar with.
posted by bendy at 4:51 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


But if you had to do it every day on busy city streets, you'd become very good at it very quickly.

People always say this. It's not always true. Please stop assuming everybody's brains work like yours. Please. I had to drill near-daily for like months to be able to pass the Ohio maneuverability test. I can parallel park by rote, sort of. But I proceeded to spend an entire summer parallel parking every single day? And you know what happened at the end of that summer? I was still terrible at parallel parking and it still made me a wreck every single day. Easy for you is not easy for everybody. Please stop.

The thing that large cities and much of Europe have that huge swaths of the US don't is adequate transit. I'm not saying that it's anything like "parallel parking is impossible for the average person", I'm just saying, please stop talking like any random person you come across must just lack adequate practice to be good at it. Some of us would not, in a place with transit and universally terrible parking, be drivers at all. It isn't that we all get away with being terrible at parking because we don't have to do better. It's that if we lived somewhere that it meant you just couldn't drive? Not all of us would still be driving.
posted by Sequence at 5:33 PM on January 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Do you guys all have automobiles with just absolutely wretched turn radii, or what? You don't have to "swim upstream" to leave an angled parking spot in which you've parked facing out.
\  \
 \  \
   <== traffic
 /  /
/  /
If it's like this, backing into a stall will be quite difficult to pull off (especially so the worse the angle is); this is what I meant by swimming upstream -- it's easier to back in if you're coming from the left, in other words, swimming upstream. Moreover upon leaving you're driving toward oncoming traffic and attempting to navigate an oblique turn to join the direction of traffic. I mean, sure you can theoretically do it, but it's a massive pain.
posted by axiom at 6:19 PM on January 15, 2018


fish should not be driving cars, they don't even have hands

how do their fins reach the pedals
posted by poffin boffin at 6:27 PM on January 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I hear fin extensions are a Thing with the small fry nowadays.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:36 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I cannot find my car at all

I've been parking in the massive parking lot at a massive corporate headquarters


They probably paved Paradise to put it up.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:38 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm just saying, please stop talking like any random person you come across must just lack adequate practice to be good at it. Some of us would not, in a place with transit and universally terrible parking, be drivers at all.

I wasn't responding to you, and you seem to be wildly over reacting, bold text and all, to my comment.
posted by zarq at 7:10 PM on January 15, 2018


Or putting down a traffic cone on the oncoming traffic side of the vehicle every time it's parked, even if it's in a parking lot like my local cable company requires.

at&t and their predecessor companies also do/did this. I once asked why and was told it was to force drivers to do the walk-around so they don't run over any kids or passed out people or whatever. They had the "walk off life" policy for a good long while before someone noticed the company was still paying out claims on these kinds of accidents (one of the few driving related incidents I believe can be reasonably referred to with that term), hence the cone and its visual reminder and forced walk to the far corner of the vehicle.

Comcast apparently doesn't require it, given that I've never seen them employ cones when not potentially blocking traffic. That said, I've only ever noticed them when parallel parked, so they may still do it when reversing will be required. (Even people who have driveways rarely use them in my neighborhood.. people are too lazy to open their gates and are too cheap to either remove them or get an electric opener installed)
posted by wierdo at 7:35 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


"navigate an oblique turn to join the direction of traffic. I mean, sure you can theoretically do it, but it's a massive pain."
You can actually do it, and I do actually do it whenever I manage a pullthrough fancypark in the Publix lot. It is not a massive pain or a pain at all. It is absolutely pain free, particularly compared to backing out. I have an old Volvo, though, and they turn on a dime.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:05 PM on January 15, 2018


I tried to back into spots in a crowded parking lot jerks would nose in behind me and steal my spot.

This is one correct answer ^^^^.

The other is that even if someone isn't stealing your spot, they're driving too close behind you to allow you to back into that spot you just drove slightly spot, even though you were CLEARLY using your turn signal.

Interestingly enough, in some very crowded parking lots here, backing in is prohibited as in this common DO NOT BACK INTO SPACE sign. (I have no idea why. Towing?)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:39 PM on January 15, 2018


Depends on the Publix lot. Some of them are such that if a long bed truck parks to your left after you've pulled through there is literally no way to make the turn without driving through the truck, striking a car on the other side of the single lane aisle, or making a three point turn, at least in anything bigger than a Smart Fortwo.

Personally, I don't see an advantage to doing it either way except when reversing is impossible because of people who have no regard for the rules of the road. In reality, the only provably better method is reversing through and reversing out, because you always have peak maneuverability. Unless you have one of the three cars that have four wheel steering, of course. Then it doesn't really matter.

As far as fireworks factories and whatever go, head out is the only way that makes sense. Although some of us can reverse at reasonably high speed fairly accurately, the limited top speed means that there is no possible way to be quite as quick in an evac scenario. That said, in the individual case, it's less certain. Experienced drivers can do the necessary three point turn in a second or two, possibly faster on gravel where one can gain some assistance from intentional oversteer.

Of course, in every day life it makes literally no difference. You wouldn't be able to see a toddler standing in front of most modern cars any better than you can see them behind. With reverse cameras, it's safer to park head in from that perspective, but the same can be gained by checking the front or rear before you get in and being alert and observant of your surroundings, so as I said, it's all the same now.

That said, as others have noted modern technology has made it safer to reverse from a blind alley or driveway than to go forward. Cross traffic alert is pretty damn neat. The problem is going from having all the nannies to not. Avis kindly gave me a Fusion Titanium one month and holy crap that thing had all the alerts you could imagine.

Going from that to a base Jetta wasn't the nicest swap I've ever had to make. Nearly crashed into someone in a parking lot, actually, because I'd become dependent on the technology. The one thing I despise are overly sensitive blind spot monitors. One of ZipCar's Mazda3's was constantly bitching at me on the highway. The most infuriating part was that the Mazda3 is one of the many cars where proper mirror adjustment can completely eliminate blind spots. Ford's was much less annoying since it wouldn't go off unless your proposed maneuver was actually going to cause a crash or very close to it.
posted by wierdo at 11:15 PM on January 15, 2018


Lots of places have rules against backing in because they know people are going to hit things. They don't want to repair their wall.
posted by bongo_x at 12:17 AM on January 16, 2018


I'll add another cow pie to the pile.

Nose in, and I never pull through. Both cars I drive are rather low to the ground. The older car is lower, but has virtually no blind spots. The newer car has more blind spots, but very helpful tech. The mirrors face back, not forward. So if I have to park, or end up due to circumstances beyond my control, between a luxo-truck and a steroidal minivan I can actually see better when backing out than I can just looking straight on through the pseudo-tunnel of 'burb haulers. Or through the very beefy A pillars that pedestrians have a gift for hiding in. I have to be half out of the space to see anything when pulling out front first. Historically, I bring the front of the vehicle in contact with other objects far more often than I do the rear.

Mirrors are great, and a backup camera with the motion sensor alerts are magic. But even with the backup camera, I can't reverse precisely enough to do a 90 degree reverse into a parking space.
posted by monopas at 1:12 AM on January 16, 2018


As a sitting folder, I like to back in so I can feel superior to all you standing wadders.
posted by flabdablet at 4:01 AM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm no engineer, but it seems like one-way angled parking in decent-sized parking lots allows you to squeeze in more parking spaces. You can have narrower lanes since they are not accommodating two-way traffic ...

Not more spaces; fewer spaces. Some dominoes and a ruler will prove it. Some lot designers actually make lots with angled spaces and two-way aisles, resulting in a herringbone pattern. It's the worst of both worlds. They should stop doing that. Angle parking does reduce the space and steering needed to back out, you're right.

The rear view camera is also really helpful. You can see where the curb and other car is...

All backup cameras are not created equal. The factory-installed ones in the Subarus I test-drove a couple of years ago were excellent, and I backed into a very tight space first try. The two aftermarket ones I've had put in were way less useful. Good for not running over something behind the car (and with practice, backing up to a line); less good for parking centered and straight.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:02 AM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


In parking lots, I don't pull through an empty spot to nose out in the adjacent one because I live in Metro Boston, and someone could be flying into that same spot at the same time and then catastrophe. Do you know what it's like in crappy little Boston exurb parking lots?
posted by turkeybrain at 7:51 AM on January 16, 2018


I'm no engineer, but it seems like one-way angled parking in decent-sized parking lots allows you to squeeze in more parking spaces. You can have narrower lanes since they are not accommodating two-way traffic ...

Not more spaces; fewer spaces
-- Kirth Gerson

Actually, as this parking lot standard web page shows, you can have narrower aisle tiers with one-way angled parking spots, from 52 feet needed for right-angle parking, down to 43 feet for 45 degree spots. So you can have more aisles in the same area, and therefore more parking spots.
posted by eye of newt at 8:26 AM on January 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


Actually, as this parking lot standard web page shows, you can have narrower aisle tiers with one-way angled parking spots, from 52 feet needed for right-angle parking, down to 43 feet for 45 degree spots. So you can have more aisles in the same area, and therefore more parking spots.

This was my reasoning. I think Kirth Gerson is correct that 90 degree parking allows for more spaces within a single aisle of parking, but in a larger lot angled parking gives you more parking overall because you make that up in extra aisles. It might also be more efficient in a long narrow lot where you could squeeze in double aisles instead of single ones.
posted by Preserver at 8:54 AM on January 16, 2018


And since every other aisle is one way in an opposite direction it lends itself really well to driving up and down lanes looking for a free space and you never face oncoming traffic in the aisles.
posted by VTX at 9:20 AM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


OK, I see how the narrower aisles can use less room. There would seem to be a threshold, where narrower aisles below a certain length would not overcome the loss of area caused by angled spaces. I hope lot designers have a handle on that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:40 PM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I was reminded of this thread this weekend when I streamed this PBS documentary on the energy infrastructure in the U.S. There was a segment involving an LNG tanker. After the tanker passed under a bridge the host commented that it was turning away from the dock it was headed to and the pilot explained that the ship always backed into the dock so that it could leave faster in the event of an emergency. So that thought process doesn’t just apply to cars.
posted by TedW at 4:11 PM on January 22, 2018


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