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Ah, yes, it’s that familiar subject again, that of Malaysian motorists’ parking behaviour. Not for the first time has someone seen fit to comment on how poorly we sometimes go about our business of placing our vehicles in a designated space, but a story on The Star Metro on social media today picks a bone with why Malaysians seemingly have a love affair with wanting to reverse park into perpendicular lots, being a highly inconsiderate lot as a result of that choice.

The writer of said story states that he’s never been in a place where people reverse park more than Malaysian drivers (er, Singapore?), and that this steadfast approach to reverse parking – especially in crowded areas such as shopping complexes – makes for serious traffic flow problems, because many a time those attempting the maneouvre take too long to place their car inside the spot. There are salient points to the argument, but here’s a counterpoint view.

We’re not going to defend driving ability, or lack thereof, because it does vary from driver to driver, as is the time taken sometimes for a driver to park a vehicle. Yes, it does mean waiting, but most motorists manage the reverse-in perpendicular parking move efficiently, and one can argue that the same can be said about waiting with a slowpoke nose-in vehicle backing out of a parking lot.

If you want to look at it in equal terms, both approaches take as much time to execute – a person who makes an 83-point turn reverse parking move will undoubtedly take as much time to go in forward. And imagine that chap reversing out later – it works out to taking your pick of obstruction now, or later. In the end, it really depends on the individual, especially with regards to time taken.

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What we will hold fast to is the habit of backing up into a parking lot, because it offers a safer – and more efficient – approach. There are quite a number of reasons as to why so. For one, unless a car has a reverse camera, a driver has a limited visual scope when attempting to back out of a perpendicular parking lot, resulting very much in a guessing game.

If the car is facing out, it provides a far wider field of vision, making it easier to pull out of the space, with a better means to observe any oncoming vehicles.

Reverse parking a car also means you’re doing it while your mind is alert. By the time you do get back to the vehicle, it could be hours later, and attention levels may be low, be it from fatigue or having the mind being preoccupied by other matters.

We’ve seen enough incidents where drivers have been blissfully unaware as they back out of a parking lot, some rather quickly, leading to near misses with cars moving along in the stream. Many a time, something seems to switch off mentally in drivers making that backing out act, either from distraction or in the belief that oncoming traffic will see and thus accommodate them. Entertaining? Not quite.

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Reverse parking also addresses other concerns in better fashion. Say your car breaks down, or you’ve left your lights on and the battery is well and truly flat – a nose-out approach means its easier to get to grips with the engine bay and a jump-start exercise.

Also, a front facing vehicle (especially in a perpendicular lot with a wall at the back) offers the driver a forward, wider field of vision, making for a safer perspective as well as providing the means for a quicker exit in an emergency situation.

We’d all rather be doing something than sitting endlessly in our cars waiting for someone to park, but either way, it ends up usually taking the same amount of time placing it in head-in or face-out, with the obstruction merely a case of now or later. That being the case, we always believe you should make it a habit of placing the vehicle facing out.

Should motorists place their cars facing in or out in perpendicular parking lots? Share your views and opinions on the matter with us in the comments section.