Pay extra attention when backing out of a parking stall

Rules for reversing

“Whose fault is it if I back out of a parking space and hit someone driving by behind me?”

The Motor Vehicle Act establishes a general rule requiring a driver must not move a vehicle that is stopped, standing or parked unless the movement can be made with reasonable safety.

It also places the onus on the driver who is backing up. It says a driver must not, in any event or at any place, cause a vehicle to move backwards unless the movement can be made in safety.

A check of ICBC's web site finds a page where liability for a crash caused by a driver backing up is discussed. The page says the courts generally rule that a reversing vehicle is 100 per cent at fault for any resulting accident. ICBC will assess your fault based on court decisions, so expect to be at fault both from the point of view of a traffic ticket and insurance liability.

The case of Kope v Tse decided liability following a crash in a Canadian Tire parking lot in Vancouver. In that case, Madam Justice McDonald examined the circumstances involved and explained each driver's duty to the other.

Here are a number of suggestions to help you avoid problems:

• Back into a parking space. The vehicles around it are not moving.

• Choose a parking space you can drive through and face outward on the other side.

• Have a passenger guide you and stop traffic.

• Circle check your vehicle before entering and scan constantly while backing up.

• Back up slowly.

• Never back up further than absolutely necessary.

• Turn toward the driver's side if possible for better visibility.

• Install a backup alarm to warn others.

Many newer vehicles have a backup cameras and warning systems as standard equipment. The system warns a driver of objects it senses behind the vehicle when they are near enough to be a hazard. They are meant as assistance and must not take the place of a 360-degree visual scan and turning your head to look to the rear.

You may choose to install an aftermarket kit if it was not available as a factory accessory for your vehicle.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Behind the Wheel articles

About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories