Parkers looking forward (and past the impatience) swear by backwards approach

May 12, 2011

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I do not understand why some people get so angry over people who back into parking spaces. If a scientific study were done, I truly believe that it would find that backing into a parking space and pulling out frontward vs. pulling into a parking space frontward and then backing out would take exactly the same time.

When people are waiting for someone to back out and leave, do they still get as angry about it as they do when they are waiting for people to back into a space?

If I am going to a function, I believe that people will be arriving at different times and, when the function is over, will all be leaving at the same time. I believe that it is better to back into the space to leave more quickly by pulling forward.

I also agree with the folks who say they can’t see around the giant vehicles people like to drive now and that it is safer to back in.

Truly, in the greater scheme of what is going on in the world, this really is inconsequential.

Rebecca Hotop, Fairfax Station

DG: Governors, mayors and highway department leaders do not spend time talking about this topic. They talk about transportation projects that will never happen because there’s no money to pay for them.

The rest of us: We still have to drive every day, so we spend a lot of time thinking about how drivers should behave in ordinary situations. A letter in the April 21 column generated scads of letters from drivers who wanted to explore the mysteries of other drivers’ behavior or make recommendations based on their experiences.

Better to back in

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have been following this from afar here in New Jersey. I almost always back in.

There is no rational reason that backing in should take longer than backing out. And often, fronters don’t get in on the first try, either; they have to go back and forth to line themselves up properly. Delays are incurred regardless of forward or backward approaches. Such back-and-forths are more a function of driver skill.

Pulling forward from a space into the travel lane is invariably safer than trying to back out, especially if you are surrounded by larger vehicles or obstructed views. The two adjacent vehicles are fixed. You know they aren’t moving, and the spatial relationships aren’t changing. That is certainly not the case when backing into the traffic lane, where a dynamic situation exists. I think backing in should be mandatory.

Regardless of which way you pull in or out, drivers are always impatient and want you to do it faster (in other words, get out of my way!), so you stand a good chance of annoying someone on the way in or out.

Paul K. Stangas, Metuchen, N.J.

Combat-style parking

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

If pulling in and then backing out were the best way, then why do so many people pull through to the far side of the parking lane to have the front of the vehicle pointing out?

In the military, we called backing into a spot — be it in the motor pool or out on a wood line — “combat parking,” because if you needed to move out quickly, particularly in an orderly and organized manner, having the vehicles all pointing forward was the only way to go. Once you get used to doing it, it’s something that sticks.

As far as people being as annoyed with others for backing out of a parking place as they are with people backing into one, that’s probably not going to be the case for a couple of reasons. If you are waiting for someone to back out of a place, it is probably because you want to park there, so you are going to be a lot more willing to wait.

If you’re waiting for someone to back into a parking place, then you are probably looking for one yourself, and that person is holding you up.

Gerry Lebel, Springfield

Flashing red arrows

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Regarding your column discussing signals at dedicated left-turn lanes and the use of flashing yellow arrows to proceed with caution [Dr. Gridlock, April 14], there’s at least one intersection in Montgomery County that uses flashing red arrows and requires left-turners to stop.

Going south on Georgia Avenue at Arcola Avenue, the left-turn lane has a flashing red arrow close to a sign that reads: “Left-turn yield on flashing red arrow after stop.”

The arrow starts flashing red after the green arrow expires, and the solid green lights for through traffic remain on. The left-turn arrow becomes solid red when the lights for through traffic become red.

Flashing red arrows still do not give left-turners the right of way, but they do force them to come to a full stop before proceeding into the intersection.

Isn’t this safer for drivers in helping to prevent rear-end crashes in the left-turn lane and crashes involving oncoming traffic, as well as being safer for pedestrians, who have the right of way at the intersection where left-turners are headed?

Also, flashing red arrows together with the sign may ease frustration for those in line in the left-turn lane because the protocol is unambiguous.

Susanne Humphrey, Wheaton

DG: Maryland is one of the rare jurisdictions that uses flashing red arrows to control left turns, and even within Maryland, it is quite uncommon.

Having each driver stop before turning can reduce the chances of collisions, but not all drivers understand what it means or choose to obey the signal and stop — even though the explanatory sign is well positioned for drivers to see. I saw plenty of drivers slow, rather than stop, at the Arcola Avenue intersection.

Continue reading
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Local