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Do You Back Into Parking Spaces—Or Do You Drive In?

On August 22nd, I became the proud owner of a little Hyundai Accent I named Seth. Since then, Seth and I have been braving America’s 7th most dangerous city for driving ie Atlanta. As a new driver, I’m only just beginning to learn my habits on the road—and in parking spaces.

One of these habits I’ve noticed is that I back into parking spaces a good 80 to 90 percent of the time. Actually, I do this 100 percent of the time at home and at work. The only exceptions are at the gym or the store, where I either drive over two spaces, so I can still face outward, or I suck it up and park facing inwards to save time or leave trunk space.

There are a number of reasons I back into parking spaces. The first is that Seth has a small and high back window which limits rear visibility, with no backup camera to compensate for it.

The second is that great visibility or no, I hate backing into oncoming traffic, even in a parking lot. You never know for sure if pedestrians and drivers are paying attention and I don’t plan to learn the hard way.

Finally, my male friends in Jamaica always told me that you should back into parking spaces, in case of an emergency that requires a speedy getaway, like an attempted assault or a mass shooting.

Now that I’m beginning to note this habit of mine, I also notice most people in America park facing inwards ie they drive forward into the parking space. Not only does this seem less safe to me, but it also seems less proactive.

With that in mind, I’ve now begun to wonder about the underlying reasons behind why a person parks the way they do. What role does culture play, since most of my Jamaican friends—male and female—back in? What role does gender play, since my male friends seem more comfortable reversing in than my female friends?

What role does race play, since my Black friends are more likely to reverse in than my White and Asian friends? What role does personality play, since my more forward-thinking friends prefer to park knowing they can leave quickly by driving out, if need be?

Or is this all coincidental?

I’ve been thinking of conducting a little study to find out. As a former sociology student, it would be going back to my academic roots in more ways than one. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s curious about the personal and demographic differences that may or may not influence how a person parks their car, and why. Are you?

Here are the results of a poll I ran on Twitter; it received 283 votes and dozens of comments. My Facebook friends also had plenty to say…but unfortunately, I can’t include those. Also, since most of my Facebook friends are Jamaican, that sample is biased. It is, however, why I know that most of my Jamaican friends back in, regardless of gender or sex.

PS:—This is the only study I have seen referenced on this, so far: Interesting Research: The Way You Park Your Car Says Something About Your Economic Outcome

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