"I was surprised to read all the positives of backing into parking spaces, because it's a trend that irks me so much," wrote Katalin Korossy of Kensington, Md. "Too often I have had to sit there, waiting, while someone slowly reverses into parking spaces they could have easily slipped into nose-first."
Dave Martin of Chantilly, Va., said he has always wondered whether back-in parking is just a "Catholic thing," because he encounters it almost every Sunday at Mass. Wrote Dave: "It seems that we're always cutting it close to make it before the priest and his attendants walk down the aisle, and it's maddening to be blocked from parking by people who are carefully maneuvering to fit the backs of their cars into tight parking spaces."
Rick Counihan of Takoma Park, Md., finds it frustrating when poorly-skilled drivers slowly inch their way backward into tight parking spaces.
“No matter how tight a garage is, the parking spot is always tighter than the lanes to drive around in the garage,” he wrote. “Therefore, it should be easier and faster to pull straight into the parking spot and back out into the larger access lanes.”
Not so — um — fast, argues the back-in contingent. Jack Aubert of Falls Church, Va., said. Once the proper reversing technique is mastered, he says, "you can get into parking slots with one shot and minimal clearance."
Edward Kerman of Potomac, Md., said that when you reverse into a space, your front wheels become your rear wheels and the car benefits from "rear-wheel steering," the same technique that allows forklifts to maneuver in narrow aisles. A vehicle using rear-wheel steering "does not need to make multiple movements of turning and backing," he wrote.
Jim Fields of Silver Spring, Md., said backing in makes sense because "the only real danger zone is your narrow, soon-to-be-occupied parking stall." You are familiar with the current driving space around you because you just drove through it.
“When you back out, you have a large, difficult-to-see, possibly altered zone behind you which, by the time you get settled and ready to reverse, could have changed,” he wrote.
Jim McGee of Bethesda, Md., echoed these sentiments, writing, "I'd much rather back into a space where the odds are in my favor that nothing will be moving, rather than back into a traffic lane where there is a high likelihood of moving vehicles or pedestrians."
Some readers said other drivers seem more willing to let a car pull out in front of them than back out. They back into spaces because otherwise no one would let them out.
My Lovely Wife tells me that when she trained to be a Girl Scout leader, she was taught to back in when on troop trips.
Some employers actually prohibit front-in parking. Paul Rosa of Charles Town, W.Va., taught defensive driving for FedEx, a company that he said "preaches backing upon arrival as a religion."
Wrote Paul: “This is because of situational awareness. When you arrive you have a clear view of the big picture. When departing, people often don’t make a 360-degree assessment of the scene. That bicycle some kid threw down behind you, or the kid, might be overlooked.”
Bob Liddell, a retired U.S. Army colonel in Burke, Va., said that in the military, backing a vehicle into a position in the field is known as "tactical parking."
Wrote Bob: “The vehicle is backed into position so it can move out rapidly if required.” He thinks the high number of active and retired military personnel in the D.C. area may explain its prevalence around here.
Bob Love of Fairfax County, Va., had a more practical rationale for backing into a parking space: in case you need a jump-start. Most car batteries are up front. "If you are nose-in and have vehicles all around you, there is no way to jump-start unless you have a portable jumper," Bob wrote.
The rift between backers and anti-backers might only be healed if the backers practice it enough that they become incredibly adept. Of course, that may take some time.
Is your area high school planning a reunion? Send me the details and I’ll try to print them in a future column. Email me — with “Reunion” in the subject field — and include the name of your school, the class year, the date of the reunion and contact info.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.