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Motor Mouth articles 2012

The huge cost of going backwards

Whoops! Another case of dodgy reversing

BEHIND YOU!’ It may be a familiar sound in panto-land at this time of the year but it could just as well be a warning shouted to motorists as well.

New figures reveal that reversing causes £409 million a year in vehicle damage, with an average repair cost of £2,123. That’s almost 200,000 reversing accidents annually, equivalent to more than 500 every day.

The statistics come from research carried out by Accident Exchange, the leading accident management specialists, who warn that the blackest of blackspots for such prangs are congested car parks.

In the majority of incidents, the driver at fault collided with the innocent party’s stationary vehicle, usually in a car park, or was reversing from a driveway or narrow side road.

The study suggests that reversing cars cause almost 8% of total vehicle accidents in the UK, and the half-billion pound damage bill does not take into account the wider costs associated with the involvement of emergency services or lost labour hours.

All told there were around 2.5 million accidents in 2010 on British roads and Department for Transport figures show that failing to check for another vehicle was the main contributory factor in 38% of accidents. The research was based on nearly 31,000 claims handled in the year to last June.

“Despite the proliferation of technology such as parking sensors and reverse cameras, drivers are not taking enough care to carefully check their surroundings while reversing,” said Lee Woodley of Accident Exchange.

“Accidents can and always will happen but perhaps drivers are mollycoddled by their vehicles too much these days. It is easy to become over-reliant on technology, pampered by their vehicle’s cosy, quiet environment.”

Obviously our Mr Woodley has never been in my car, especially when Mrs Mouth is aboard, because there is absolutely nothing cosy or quiet about that particular environment.

Reversing has always been a skill that many learners have found tough to master. Three-point turns and reversing around 90-degree corners have challenged and defeated new drivers since wheels and roads were invented.

I used to be quite good at it and was quite a whiz backing into kerbside parking gaps, but nowadays I seem to find it more of a struggle. Mrs Mouth reckons it’s because advancing years have limited my neck-swivelling ability but I prefer to blame it on vision-restricting headrests.

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