The other day, I made an offhanded remark about something being as stupid as the “parking spot back-in,” and had the unthinkable happen: my friend is a back-in parker.
WHAT? Why? And, like, how? And, like, don’t. Because in case it hasn’t become apparent yet, back-in parking?
Let’s investigate why.
1) It’s Not Demonstrably Safer
This is always the first argument in favor of back-in parking (and as a side note, this applies only to parking lots or driveways. Everyone backs into spots when parallel parking unless you’re some kind of goddamn monster). Backing up is more dangerous than pulling out, so being able to pull out of a spot into traffic would be safer. And it’s inarguably true that many people are injured or even killed each year due to backing up accidents. What’s not so clear is that changing the order of operations is going to make anything safer.
Did you happen to notice the sub-heading on the Vox piece that I linked to that you totally clicked on? It says, “There is hope for people with bad spatial skills: rear-view cameras.” The issue with backing out of a parking spot isn’t that you, the competent, totally aware driver, won’t be able to avoid an oncoming car. It’s that you, the incompetent, totally unaware driver, won’t notice the car/ cart/ child behind you, and run right into it. This is less a case of “back-up parking is safer” than “drivers who are able to back up into parking spots are skilled and conscientious enough to not run people over.”
True story: The Boyfriend’s late grandfather once backed up very, very slowly into the hedges on the side of Boyfriend’s parents’ driveway, and proceeded to continue backing up through those hedges the entire length of the drive. Despite boyfriend’s dad wildly waving his arms, and shouting at him to stop. And despite the fact that Boyfriend and his friend put themselves in great danger by falling over with laughter. Luckily they were on the actual driveway, not twelve feet off of it, and therefore totally safe.
This is an extreme case, but one that should serve my point: If someone isn’t capable enough to safely back up their car, why would we trust them to do it when it’s even harder? Because while it might not be safer to back-in park, it is definitely harder. Which is a problem because …
2) The Effort Is Being Put Into The Wrong Part
Backing up is the hard part of parking. It’s the dangerous part because it limits visibility, and because people need to determine how much space they have to safely maneuver their car while also doing the maneuvering of said car. So if you have the option of backing up into a wide open street/ parking lot aisle, why the hell would you limit yourself to the space of only a parking spot? And I can feel you start to argue that the street/ parking lot aisle might not always be wide open. Which means you’re most likely parking exclusively during Christmas shopping, or in the most terribly designed parking lot on a large city’s main artery I’ve ever seen. In anything other than those two situations, you should have a decent amount of time to back your car out of its spot safely.
And again, I feel the need to point out that backing into the spot doesn’t change that you’ll have an issue with there being too much traffic, just when there’s too much traffic. If you back into a parking spot, you need to move past the spot, and then do the difficult dance of getting your car’s ass into that little parking spot. Which means in addition to possibly making me lose my mind because I thought you were just moving past the parking spot and that turned out not to be true and I’m swearing now, you are waiting on all of the traffic to get your shot.
So why not do the difficult thing (backing up) when you have more leeway (via more space in which to back up)? Is there really any benefit to doing the harder thing under more difficult circumstances? Kind of, but …
3) It Looks Really, Really Stupid
There are a few different things I’m going to put on my non-existent tombstone because my plan includes a death in which they never find a body thereby allowing me to convince my enemies I’m still alive and watching them well after I’m gone, and the main one is “Yeah, I know I’m an asshole.” So, yeah, I’m an asshole. And here’s where I show my asshole-ness (gross, not like that).
A-ha-ha-hem: NO ONE’S IMPRESSED WITH YOUR RAD SKILLS.
Well, that’s a lie. Maybe some people are impressed with your rad driving skills, but those people are not me. And we need to all acknowledge that there is an element of doing a fancy, back in parking job that wants everyone who sees the parking spot to at least respect the additional skill and effort that went into that parking. Sure, yes, I know you individually, new commenter, you don’t do it to be admired. You do it because you had to learn to back in because of your job, and now it’s the easiest way to park. Or because you’re genuinely terrified of backing over someone, and this is the easiest way for you to mitigate that fear. But all those assholes out there who are back-in parking? They’re doing it because they get to feel like Baby Driver for a split second. Or one of them Fast and Furious characters (who I’m sure have names, but I’ve never seen the movies so . . Is one of them called “Fast” and one is called “Furious”?).
And feeling cool for doing an awesome parking job, while totally understandable (I may or may not shout “sploosh” when I parallel park in a very tight spot), requires other people to admire the awesome parking job. And I totally don’t. Because despite the parallel parking thing up there, I don’t really care about cars. They, in general, are not my jam. I don’t appreciate the practice it must have taken to learn how to park like that. I look at your stupid parking job, and think, “I’m going to use this as a term of derision in future conversations.” The thing that you like to do? I make dick jokes about it on the internet. I ruin it. I’m a ruiner.
All that shit talking aside, I want everyone here who back-in parks to continue doing what you’re doing. I might not agree with it, but I’m not the boss of you. I’m just here to point out it might be dumb. And when I inevitably mow down twenty feet of driveway hedges, I hope you’re all there to point and laugh at me.