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Backing up harder than breaking up

There are more break-up songs than back-up songs, which is strange, because more people get hurt backing up.

There are more break-up songs than back-up songs, which is strange, because more people get hurt backing up.

And this is real, physical hurt, not that flakey emotional stuff you can fix with a bit of Haagen-Dazs.

“Backing up is the highest risk activity you can do with a vehicle,” says Brain Patterson of the Ontario Safety League. “If a crash is the result of a low-speed impact, chances are someone was backing up.”

The Ontario Safety League has been around since 1913 and is recognized as one of North America’s leading traffic safety organizations. Its mandate is “safety through education.” Needless to say, the League has looked at a lot of carnage since 1913.

“We seem to be making headway in a whole bunch of areas,” notes Patterson. “But there are two areas that are constantly at issue. Male drivers between 16 and 24. And crashes involving backing up.”

Patterson has a few theories on why backing up is still a heavy hitter on the unsafe scene.

He feels a lot of people don’t do it enough to get proficient at it. And he feels people are just less courteous these days.

“I’m walking through a parking lot, say at a shopping mall. I see you backing up, but instead of walking in front of the vehicle, I keep walking behind your moving vehicle.”

Patterson and I were speaking at a parking lot, where Canadian Tire was allowing media to sample its exclusive line of back-up related safety products from Yada: Rearview Mirror Back-up Camera with Speakerphone (via Blue Tooth); Dash Mounted Back-up Camera; Back-up Sensor System; Blind Spot Assist System.

These safety systems are becoming increasingly available on new vehicles, especially on larger and/or luxury ones. And good thing, too. Because as Mandi Paquin-Johnson of Canadian Tire notes, “bigger vehicles mean bigger blind spots.”

So if you’re not quite ready, willing, or able to shell out for a new vehicle equipped with all these features, you now have the option of adding them to your current ride. The Yada line runs from $149 to $249 (plus installation, though some folks will be able to do it themselves).

I think rear-view cameras are awesome. Not only do they allow you to back up with precision, they flush out any low-lying obstacles (or small folk!) that are directly behind your vehicle, and therefore undetectable from any side or rear-view mirror.

Patterson notes these electronic systems are especially helpful to drivers who have physical limitations, especially with upper body mobility.

Of course there is a caveat… “They don’t replace good driving practices. They enhance good driving practices,” says Paterson.

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