Resource:Roll Call Reminder - Safe Backing Practices

Dear Department Leader, 

This roll call training discusses the issues that can arise from officers backing their patrol vehicle. The following page will guide you and your officers in discussing the hazards faced while backing up.  

Many law enforcement agencies report that the number of backing collisions, while driving a patrol vehicle, are higher than any other type of collision.  These collisions can result in vehicle damage, bodily injury to officers and others, and may negatively impact the department’s reputation in the community.  Safe backing procedures can reduce the high frequency of backing collisions.  

Law enforcement officers drive thousands of miles each year, which increases their risk of collision. Although the large majority of vehicle accidents occur while vehicles are traveling forward, according to the National Safety Council, one out of every four accidents occurs while the vehicle is in reverse.

Most backing accidents are preventable; however, an officer’s job is unpredictable, and driving a patrol vehicle presents an additional set of hazards under a number of different variables. 

Keeping in mind the pressure officers may be under when needing to reverse their vehicles, and the additional hazards they face when driving, it is important to remind them of proper backing procedures, even with the presence of a backup camera. 

  • Always look before backing (although helpful, do not rely solely on a backup camera view).
  • Look at the path of travel, clearing the front before putting the car in reverse.
  • Use a spotter whenever possible.
  • When possible, walk around the car to get a view of the backing area and any limitations. 
  • Utilize the mirrors on both sides of the patrol car.
  • Be aware of the vehicle’s blind spots. Mirrors do not give a full view while backing up.
  • Make sure the vehicle is at a complete stop before you put it in reverse.
  • Move the top of the steering wheel in the direction you want the car to go.
  • Use smooth applications of the brake, steering wheel, and accelerator. 
  • Slowly back up the vehicle.
  • Back into parking spots when possible to avoid the need for backing in high-stress situations.


Driving a patrol vehicle presents its own set of hazards under a number of different variables.  Having to back up a patrol vehicle further complicates the task.  Officers must use due caution when backing, taking into account multiple variables that can cause an accident.  


Roll Call Reminder

This Roll Call Reminder intends to point out the hazards of improper backing and discuss strategies to make backing easier and safer.  The intent is to have a department leader or designated team member read the reminder aloud to the team.  After hearing the message, work together to answer and respond to the questions that follow.  To conclude the conversation, it is important that you acknowledge the challenges you face when backing and commit to practicing proper backing procedures when operating your patrol vehicle. 


Welcome Law Enforcement Officers,

Imagine your vehicle is parked when you receive a call from dispatch to respond to a violent crime in progress. Due to the positioning of the vehicle you cannot drive forward and must back out of your parking space.  To add to the challenge, you have to back into a traffic jam.  Your adrenaline is high, and you want to get to the scene as quickly as possible.  What do you do first?

The most common mistake that officers make when backing-up, is failing to make sure the area behind their vehicle is clear.  Keep in mind that rearview mirrors do not give a full view of what is behind the vehicle and the view can also be obstructed by prisoner partitions. Don’t depend on a backup camera. Turn your body and head to the right and look out through the rear window to see as much as possible.  If responding to an emergency, activate your lights and sirens if necessary. Back the vehicle up slowly, and be sure to check for traffic and pedestrians by glancing to either side.  

  • What are some common situations where backing is necessary?
  • What are some of the obstacles you face when trying to back your patrol car?
  • What steps can be taken to prevent backing accidents? 


Officers should not put themselves in unnecessary backing situations.  Whenever possible, park the vehicle so you can make your first move forward, eliminating the need to back-up. In those instances where backing is necessary, remember to practice proper backing procedures to avoid vehicle damage, bodily injury to yourself and others, and negative publicity for the department.