DEARBORN (WWJ) – Turns out you may have been parking your car wrong your entire life.

According to a recent survey by AAA, more than three-quarters of U.S. drivers most frequently park their vehicle by pulling forward into a parking spot rather than backing in, which is considered the “correct” way.

AAA says pulling into a parking spot instead of backing in is much riskier because it leaves pedestrians more vulnerable when a driver later goes to leave the spot and reverses into the traffic lane.

“Pulling out of a parking spot, instead of reversing, is an easy way to increase safety and visibility in busy parking lots,” AAA’s John Nielsen said in a statement.

As part of their research, AAA also tested rear-view camera systems designed to alert drivers to traffic passing behind a reversing vehicle.

“Recognizing that American parking habits differ from much of the world, automakers are increasingly adding technology to vehicles that is designed to address rear visibility concerns,” said Nielsen. “However, AAA’s testing of these systems reveals significant shortcomings when used in real-world conditions and Americans should rely more on driving skills than technology.”

The tests showed that significant system limitations exist when parked between larger vehicles, such as SUVs or minivans. In this common parking lot scenario, the tested systems failed to detect pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles and other vehicles at alarming rates:

• A passing motorcycle was not detected by the systems in 48 percent of tests.
• The systems failed to detect a bicycle passing behind the vehicle 40 percent of the time.
• The systems failed to detect a passing vehicle 30 percent of the time.
• While not all systems are designed to detect pedestrians, the technology failed to detect pedestrians 60 percent of the time.

Gary Bubar, AAA Michigan’s traffic safety and public affairs specialist, said the testing shows that it’s critical for drivers to “reverse slowly and use this technology as an aid to, not a substitute for, safe driving.”

Previous AAA testing of rear-view camera systems, required on all new vehicles by 2018, revealed significant consumer benefits including increased visibility of the rear blind zone by an average of 46 percent. However, it’s important to note that no system shows 100 percent of the space behind a vehicle and that rain, snow or slush can impede camera visibility.

Perfect Parking Pointers

• Back into a parking spot whenever possible.
• Check all around your vehicle for people walking, other cars backing up and any other obstructions.
• Visually scan the area before putting your car in reverse
• Don’t solely depend on your car’s back-up video/sound system or mirrors.
• When parked between two SUVs or trucks that block your view, back up slowly, checking for pedestrians and other vehicles.
• Tap your brake pedal as you back up to increase your visibility to others.
• Continue to scan the area as you back up slowly.
• Park away from entrances and other cars whenever possible.

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