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Traffic jams are back, yet work-from-home leaves downtowns empty

Empty roads and cleaner air at the start of the pandemic have given way to a gradual return of traffic congestion in many global cities, but U.S. and UK downtown centers remain less busy as office workers continue to work from home, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Trips to U.S. downtown areas were 22% below pre-pandemic levels, and down as much as 49% in San Francisco, where many tech workers continue to work remotely, a 2021 traffic study of more than 1,000 cities by transportation analytics firm INRIX Inc showed.

Downtown trips in the UK remain 19% below pre-pandemic levels, but are back to pre-COVID strength in Germany, likely a result of fewer Germans working from home, said Bob Pishue, INRIX transportation analyst and author of the study.

“In the U.S., we don’t expect congestion to go back to the way it was before for a while, at least through 2022,” he said.

Traffic, an indicator closely tied to economic activity and recovery, overall has returned at uneven levels around the world, the study showed.

While the average London driver lost 148 hours in traffic this year — the most of any city dweller and roughly the same as pre-pandemic — the average U.S. city driver lost 36 hours in traffic, a nearly 43% decrease from pre-pandemic levels.

The stark differences are the result of governments’ varying approaches to pandemic restrictions, cities’ structures of downtown business centers, and workers’ ability to telecommute, Pishue said.

“There’s really not one answer for everything, it’s very complex,” said Pishue.

Vaccination rates also do not appear to influence traffic levels, with remote work being a larger driver, Pishue said. For example, in Washington D.C., normally one of the top congested U.S. cities, nearly 80% of residents are vaccinated, but hours lost to traffic remain down 65%.

2021 Overlanding Gift Guide: The gear you need to get exploring

Autoblog may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

If you’re interested in venturing off the beaten path, these off-road products will help make overlanding dreams become reality.

With the holidays just around the corner and adventure enthusiasts eager to build up their vehicles, these off-road products will set them up for off-roading success. From recovery boards and basic non-winch recovery kits, to off-road tires and off-grid navigation communication equipment, these products will set you up to explore remote surroundings with confidence.

Off-road tires

A good set of off-road tires is one of the most important things to have when heading out for off-pavement adventures with your vehicle. It’s the only thing connecting you and your rig solidly to the ground. Wrapping your wheels with either all-terrain or mud-terrain tires from a reputable company is paramount. Tires from companies like BFGoodrich, Yokohama, Nitto, Falken, and Cooper should be considered. From rugged tire tread patterns and beefy sidewall designs, to good warranties and longer wear ratings, off-road tires can help make your off-pavement adventures successful ones. Prices for off-road tires vary.

Recovery boards or traction devices

Arming yourself with recovery boards can be helpful if you find yourself stuck (or need to give others a hand). Not only can they be used for a wide array of vehicles, recovery boards (or traction devices) can provide recovery assistance if you don’t have a winch or a second vehicle available when trail mishaps occur. MAXTRAX or ARB TRED recovery boards are high-quality, durable and are very effective when used correctly. Recovery boards are stackable and can carry heavy loads (check each manufacturer for specific load ratings). Either toss them in the back of your adventure rig or mount them to your roof rack, and you’re ready for recovery action when the going gets stuck. MAXTRAX MKII recovery boards start at $299.99 for a set of two.

Roof racks: platform racks and roof baskets

If you’re looking to stash extra stuff, running an aluminum or steel roof rack will help save interior space. Offered in a plethora of sizes and shapes, platform racks and roof baskets are mounted via gutter mounts, roof crossbars, or side rails. Not only can you ratchet down camp gear or other necessities to your vehicle’s roof, but many manufacturers make side-mount brackets to house a variety of other equipment, like vehicle awnings, axes, shovels and more. Premium roof rack makers include Front Runner Outfitters, Rhino-Rack, BajaRack, ARB, Yakima and Thule. It’s important to understand what type of gear you’ll consistently be hauling as it’ll help dictate if a roof basket or platform rack will work best for you. Check each manufacturer to make sure they make an application for your ride before purchasing.

Basic non-winch recovery kits

In addition to recovery boards or traction devices, carrying a basic non-winch vehicle recovery kit can prove its weight in gold if an off-road recovery is needed. Each non-winch kit’s contents may vary, however, it’s important to carry at least two hard or soft shackles, a kinetic recovery strap (sometimes known as a snatch strap), and heavy-duty gloves. Most vehicle recovery kits offer a heavy-duty carrying case for easy usage, too. No matter what type of basic non-winch vehicle recovery kit you purchase, it’s important to buy from a reputable company like ARB, Warn Industries or Factor55. Check each kit to make sure it’s appropriate for your specific adventure vehicle. Prices for non-winch vehicle recovery kits vary.

GPS-enabled satellite communication devices

If you want to create a secure connection to the outside world while adventuring remotely, a handheld GPS or satellite communication device should be considered to keep close to loved ones. Companies like Garmin offer various models boasting numerous capabilities. Arming yourself with a satellite-connected backcountry tool that combines GPS capability with navigation and two-way satellite communications can potentially save someone’s life. Many of these products feature an SOS emergency button, strictly to be activated in case of a critical situation. Check with each manufacturer as monthly subscriptions may be required to enable these features. Garmin GPSMAP 66i handheld unit: $599.99.

Photo by Lance Hanson

Offline off-pavement maps

Traveling off the beaten path has become easier by using off-grid digital maps or apps. Companies like Gaia and onX offer a robust mapping system that can be accessed via phone, tablet or laptop. For instance, the onX Offroad app covers more than 550,000 miles of open trails plus 60,000-plus campgrounds and cabins. In addition, onX Offroad just released three-dimensional digital maps for its browser-based Web App and showcases a wildfire layer that features up-to-date information. The onX Offroad app is free for initial features, $29 per year for a premium membership, and $99 per year for the Elite package.

All the weird ways you can shift an automatic

Transmission shifters have come in all shapes, sizes and locations since the beginning of time. Even manual transmissions could be had with shifters on the steering column (“three on the tree”) in addition to the usual “stick shift” that grew out of the floor or center console, but it’s obviously the automatic that has enjoyed the widest array of shifting options. The PRND shift order used to be assured, with the most common variants being a big fat stalk mounted on the steering column, or some sort of stick sprouting from the center console. Sometimes that stick needed you to first press a button to move, sometimes it needed to make its way through gates.

Now, there was occasionally some experimentation over the years with pushbutton shifters, especially in the 1950s and ’60s, but for the most part, drivers in recent decades didn’t really need to think too much when going from car to car. And then the electronic shifter became commonplace. Free from the need to be physically connected to the transmission, they allow designers and engineers to create new, novel ways to select Park, Reverse and Drive. Usually, what they come up with are just examples of being different for the sake of being different. When properly utilized, however, there is an actual advantage to them: they take up less space (or none at all) on the center console, which allows for bigger cupholders, additional storage or infotainment controls. It’s pretty obvious which of the below shifters do a better job of this space efficiency than others, as well as which fall into that “different for different sake” category.

And holy cow are there a lot of electronic shifter designs these days. We’ve broken them down into general categories below, and we’ve almost certainly missed a couple. If all this seems overly complicated, maybe just stick to a manual?

The Ubiquitous Monostable Shifter

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e PHEV

BMW

We’re mostly going alphabetically here, but it’s fitting that BMW goes first as it was one of the first brands to introduce and popularize what has become the most common type of electronic transmission shifter. Roughly akin to a joystick, the term “monostable” indicates that no matter which direction you push or pull it, it returns to its original position. In most cases, you push forward through a detent to get to Reverse and back through a detent to get Drive. In the case of BMW, you then slide it laterally to find a separate “gate” devoted to up and down manual shifting. This functionality has remained the same over the years even if BMW has changed the knob design. It also set a precedent for other brands. 

2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo

This works exactly the same as BMW’s. It was upgraded to have a nicer piece of hardware for 2021 complete with a little Italian flag at its base. Ciao!

2019 Audi A62021 Audi SQ5 Sportback

Audi

The monostable found on many Audis (above left) works similar to BMW’s but the shift knob design is quite different. It usually doubles as a place to rest your arm while using a touchscreen. 

2022 Chevy Silverado High Country

GM

Found in Cadillacs in particular, this monostable above left works basically the same as BMW’s. Earlier versions had an unusual dogleg design for Reverse that made you push up and to the left to engage. This was supposedly for safety, but was confusing. Above right you can see the new 2022 Silverado has a monostable that would seem to function the same but has a more Audi-like design.

Jaguar

The Jaguar F-Type has always had a cool monostable shifter that felt like the butt of a futuristic space gun in your hand. It gradually spread throughout the Jaguar-Land Rover lineup, frequently replacing the old rotary shifter. Unfortunately, the space gun is being replaced in all Jaguars but the F-Type with this nobby little sledge instead. Boo. 

Land Rover

Land Rover uses monostables, but has different knobs. The Defender’s unique, dash-mounted knob is shaped like a bent nail, while the Discovery and new Range Rover get the nobby little sledge (or “palm shifter”) shared with corporate sibling Jaguar.

Mercedes-AMG

The Mercedes-AMG GT coupe and sedan both feature a monostable shifter on the center console, versus the column-mounted shifter found on all other Mercedes (see below). Its small size puts in on the border between this category on the next, mini monostable category.

2020 Mini Cooper SE in Miami2020 Mini Cooper SE in Miami

Mini

The electric Mini Cooper SE has a monostable shifter that works the same as those in parent company BMW’s cars. The knob is different, though.

Nissan and Infiniti

The new Nissan shifter, found in the Rogue and show above left, is a monostable design. It’s a bit smaller than the norm, but not quite to the same level as the mini variants shown below. Sister company Infiniti also uses a monostable in its QX50 and QX55, shown above right, but it’s a heftier, higher-quality piece that also locates the Park button separate of the knob itself (which is annoying).

Volvo and Polestar

Electrified corporate cousins of Volvo and Polestar share a common monostable shifter unit, but the knobs differ. Range-topping Volvos get a knob furnished out of Orrefors crystal. Fancy. The Polestar shifter works the same, but instead of crystal, there’s a hole in it. Wacky.

The Miniature Monostable

2022 Audi RS E-Tron GT

Audi

Audi, like other Volkswagen Group brands, has introduced a sort of Monostable Mini that broadly functions in the same Forward/Reverse and Back/Drive orientation, but it uses a variety of weird, tiny, nub-like controls. We don’t really like them, mostly because they look unsubstantial and a bit lame. The Audi S3 is above left, the Audi e-Tron GT is above right.

 

Audi e-Tron

Yet another Audi take on the monostable. You still push forward for Reverse and pull back for Drive, but here, the shifter is effectively flopped on its side and operated with your thumb (Reverse) or index finger (Drive).

Porsche

This is basically the same as what you’ll find elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group, but it just looks extra-dopey in Porsche. Even if a shifter is rarely used in an automatic Porsche, there’s something so unsubstantial and unrewarding about using this little tab. It’s located on the center console in the 911 (above left) and on the dash in the Taycan (above right). Other Porsches have more traditional automatic shifters.

Volkswagen

Again, pretty much the same nub deal as what you’ll get in an Audi or Porsche, but in a Volkswagen. Also, again, in a performance vehicle like a GTI (left) and Golf R (right), it just seems a bit lame. 

The Rotary PRND

Chrysler Pacifica, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wagoneer, Most Ram Trucks

This simple rotary design basically replaces the north-south PRND shift knob and replaces it with an east-west knob. It also saves space by allowing for a dash-mounted placement, thereby keeping the center console area open in both the Pacifica and six-passenger Ram. It just looks fancy in the new Grand Cherokee and Wagoneer.

Ford

The rotary shifter has been found throughout the Ford lineup for nearly a decade now, albeit with variously different knob hardware. This one is slightly different, in that there aren’t hard detents “at the end” of its travel for Park and Drive. The “P” lights up to let you know you’re in Park, but you can keep twirling the dial past that point. According to Ford engineer Leeway Ho, “Our extensive customer research showed that users understand ‘P’ and ‘D’ as the two end points and the most commonly used positions … so they just twirl freely and know there’s no danger of overshooting their desired position, which is what a physical stop prevents. A quick rotation of the wrist without discreetly counting indentations will put the car into ‘P’ or ‘D,’ depending upon which way you’re rotating, without the harsh endstop you would encounter otherwise. In addition, the customer will see Park position in the cluster, and the car provides a subtle audible feedback when you’ve selected ‘P.’”

The Rotary Monostable

Genesis

Genesis utilizes a rotary shifter, but its functionality differs from those of the others. It’s vaguely similar in concept to the monostable where you twist left for Reverse and twist right for Drive. You then press the Park button in the middle. Of course, the Genesis GV70 (above right) complicates things by adding a second knob of virtually the same size adjacent to it that controls the infotainment system. In the G80 and GV80 (above left), the infotainment controller is more like an old iPod flush-mounted scroll wheel. 

The Rotary Glowing Orb

Genesis GV60

The rotary “Crystal Sphere” shifter of the new electric GV60 selects a gear in the same method as the other Genesis rotary shifters: twist left for Reverse, twist right for Drive, press button for park. But, there’s a wrinkle. When parked, a glowing glass hemisphere with an intricate lattice pattern sits on the center console. The lighting within can be customized with dozens of preset colors (or a hue of your own choosing) to match the ambient lighting on the doors and dash. When you’ve authenticated yourself as the driver, the orb flips over to reveal the ornate rotary gear selector. Genesis claims it’s actually a safety feature because you’ll clearly know when the car is actually on. That can be an issue in a car without an internal combustion engine, but any claim that a fanciful electronic shifter is a safety feature does seem dubious. 

The Column Shifter 2.0

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes was one of the earliest automakers to widely adopt electronic shifters, and immediately seized upon their advantage of freeing up center console space by removing it from the center console altogether. Virtually every Mercedes, apart from select AMG models, has an electronic column shifter. It works a bit like a monostable on its side: flip up for Reverse, flip down for Drive and press the button on the end for Park. Pretty simple. It can take a bit to remember where the shifter went, but once you do, it immediately becomes second nature. In fact, after swapping out of a Mercedes test vehicle and into something else, it’s quite common for us to turn on the new car’s windshield wipers when trying to put the car into Drive. 

We do not have a photo of it, but the Lucid Air uses a similar shifter design, likely because of the precedent set by our next entry. 

Tesla

Tesla originally used the same shifter design and hardware as Mercedes, but eventually moved on to unique pieces of hardware. Tesla is moving away from such physical hardware entirely, however. Keep on reading. 

The Button Shifters

Aston Martin

Aston has used button-activated automatic transmission shifters since the DB9, which basically had the same setup as the DBX (above left). The Vantage has its buttons arranged in a triangle low on the center stack.

Hyundai

At present, there are two types of button-reliant shifters offered by Hyundai. The one above left is found in the Palisade, Tucson and Sonata. The other, above right, is essentially Hyundai’s first go at a button shifter and found in the Ioniq Electric.

Jaguar I-Pace

The electric I-Pace is the outlier in the Jag lineup with its button-operated shifter.

The Push-and-Pull Button Shifters

Honda / Acura

The electronic shifter found in most Hondas and Acuras is a common button design. You push buttons for Park, Neutral and Drive, then pull up on a tab-like control for Reverse. The ergonomics of this shifter greatly depend on its placement. The closer it is to where your hand would naturally rest in the car, as in the Acura TLX above left, the more natural it is to use. In the CR-V, above right, not so much.

GM Variant 1: Console Mounted

This new push-and-pull button shifter design, found in the 2022 Chevy Bolt (above left) and Buick Envision (above right) among others, is similar to Honda’s design but you pull for both Reverse and Drive. 

GM Variant 2: Corvette

The Corvette shifter is similar to the others above, but is a different piece of hardware.

2018 GMC Terrain SLT Diesel2022 GMC Terrain

GM Variant 3: The GMC Terrain

One of our least favorite shifters, this is pure “different for different sake.” Although the button design was updated (seen above right) from its original hardware (above left), the functionality remains. Push for Park and Neutral. Pull for Reverse and Drive. Bizarrely, push buttons for + or – gears. This thing also takes up a needlessly excessive amount of space and isn’t ergonomic to use. Silliness.

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

GM Variant 4: Full-Size SUVs

Found in the Chevy Tahoe and Yukon, this is the same design as the Terrain’s, but flipped on its side to be a better ergonomic fit for your hand and placed in a closer, more sensible location between the steering wheel and infotainment screen.

The Piano Keys

Lincoln

Only Lincoln does this. For a while, the brand used buttons stacked laterally adjacent to the central touchscreen. Then, with the Navigator, it introduced the current shifter design that is most comparable to piano keys. It’s simple enough to work, if a bit silly. 

The Nub

2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e2017 Toyota Prius Prime Advanced

Toyota Prius

We break away from our normal alphabetical listing here to highlight the car that basically introduced the world to electronic shifters. And it did so with “the nub.” This squat little doo-dad introduced for the second-generation Prius (the first one that was actually popular) and mounted to its dash is literally a monostable, but differs from the BMW-established norm by requiring you to slide it left and then up for Reverse, or left and then down for Drive. Some versions, as in the case of the Prius, have a B function that replicates engine-braking while going down hill.

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus first drive

Nissan Leaf

Clearly inspired by the Prius, the Nissan Leaf debuted with a flying saucer-shaped shifter that operated in the same way as the Prius nub (minus B mode). It survived to the second-generation Leaf, pictured above.

Lexus

The new Lexus NX and Lexus LC have a variation of the Prius “nub,” even if the models in question aren’t hybrids. The nobs aren’t as nubby, but they functional the same. Left and up for Reverse; left and down for Drive. A Sport transmission mode replaces B when you slide it back. 

The Touchscreen / Telepathy

Tesla

When the Tesla Model S recently received it’s first major refresh, the big news was the adoption of a yoke instead of a steering wheel. Somewhat buried by that news was that Tesla’s previous, Mercedes-like, column-mounted electronic shifter would be replaced by a swiping motion on the touchscreen. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. That functionality was intended to be the “override.” According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the “car guesses drive direction based on what obstacles it sees, context and nav map.” In other words, it should automatically just figure out which direction you want to go. Like, telepathy? In any event, none of the above seems like a good idea. You can see why that might be the case, at least in terms of the yoke and touchscreen shifter, thanks to Motor Trend‘s Christian Seabaugh and his attempt at a multi-point turn. Hey, maybe it would’ve gone better if he just let the car read his mind.

U.S. gas prices at Thanksgiving are highest since 2012

As an estimated 48.3 million Americans hit the road for Thanksgiving, they’re going to find that gasoline prices along their route are not to their liking.

Thanks to inflation, the holiday meal at their destination will be expensive to put together, and getting there will be a bit higher too. According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of unleaded gasoline is $3.40, the highest it’s been for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend since 2012.

In an era where more cars are turbocharged and require premium, the national average price for higher-octane fuel is $4.03. 

Diesel’s national average is $3.64.

California has some of the highest averages, with regular at $4.70 a gallon and premium at a hair over $5.

> Autoblog ‘Cheap Gas Near Me’ tool

For historical perspective, however, that $3.40 national average for regular unleaded falls far, far short of the highest average price AAA ever recorded: $4.11 a gallon in July 2008 — which would be $5.28 in today’s dollars.

Nor are current gasoline prices forcing anyone to stay home. AAA says predicted travel volume is up 8% from last year when pandemic social distancing was being taken more seriously, though this year’s level is down 3% from 2019.

Thanksgiving really is a drivers holiday, as the number of car travelers dwarves the 4.2 million who are expected to travel by air.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden authorized the release of 50 million barrels of crude oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an attempt to lower prices at the pump. But any effect that move might have on retail gasoline won’t be felt right away. And that amount might not increase supply by all that much — it’s merely the amount of petroleum that Americans consume in 2½ days.

Automakers with the highest customer satisfaction rankings

The American Customer Satisfaction Index reports that overall satisfaction scores for automakers stayed constant between 2020 and 2021. That’s good news, but a look at the past five years suggests that customer satisfaction in new vehicles isn’t as high as it once was. Back in 2017, the average score was 82 on a 100-point scale; for 2021 the average sits at 78.

Let’s get to the numbers, broken out by mainstream brands and luxury brands:

American Customer Satisfaction Index: Mass-market nameplates

  1. Honda (82)
  2. Subaru (81)
  3. Ram (80)
  4. Hyundai (79)
  5. Mazda (79)
  6. Toyota (79)
  7. Dodge (78)
  8. Ford (78)
  9. GMC (78)
  10. Nissan (78)
  11. Buick (77)
  12. Kia (77)
  13. Volkswagen (77)
  14. Chevrolet (76)
  15. Jeep (76)
  16. Mitsubishi (71)
  17. Chrysler (70)

American Customer Satisfaction Index: Luxury nameplates

  1. BMW (81)
  2. Lexus (81)
  3. Audi (80)
  4. Tesla (80)
  5. Mercedes-Benz (78)
  6. Cadillac (77)
  7. Volvo (77)
  8. Acura (76)
  9. Lincoln (76)
  10. Infiniti (75)

With an overall score of 82 (up 4% over last year), Honda leads all automakers regardless of what segment they compete in. Subaru, BMW (up 4%) and Lexus (down 1%) all tied with a score of 81, followed by Ram (which had the highest score last year), Audi and Tesla at 80. The lowest score of all came from the Chrysler brand all the way down at 70 (down 4%) and just below Mitsubishi’s score of 71 (down a disastrous 8% compared to last year). On the luxury front, Infiniti’s score of 75 is just below the 76s of Acura and Lincoln.

“Over the last few years, luxury automakers’ satisfaction lead over mass-market manufacturers has been slowly eroding. That gap is now almost nonexistent,” David VanAmburg, managing director at ACSI, said in a statement. “In terms of style points and cool factor, luxury vehicles may still have the edge, but if you remove all the bells and whistles, the two are more similar than not.”

Not surprisingly, vehicle owners who received a recall notification in 2021 reported a lower satisfaction score (76) than those who went recall free (80). European brands had the highest average scores at 79, followed by Japanese and Korean brands at 78 and American brands at 77.

Breaking the numbers down further, mass-market-brand owners gave the highest scores in categories like Safety, Dependability, Driving Performance, Exterior, Comfort and Interior while scoring the Warranty, Gas Mileage and Technology categories poorly. On the luxury side, owners were most satisfied with Comfort, Interior, Safety Driving Performance and Exterior. The category that scored the worst was Gas Mileage. 

The ACSI scores were calculated based on interviews with 4,888 customers who were chosen at random. 

Looking for more information on customer satisfaction scores? Check out these automaker rankings from Consumer Reports.

Here's why you should back into perpendicular parking spaces

This came up on Facebook once. The question was rhetorical, I think. It was something along the likes of “People who back into parking spaces: Why?” I don’t think this friend expected genuine answers, but genuine answers there were. When all was said and done, I don’t know if this person ever adopted the backing-in method, but they clearly understood and empathized with those of us who practice it more often than not. There are great reasons that backing in is a better practice.

The implication is that you have to wait for the person to make such a maneuver. I suspect if you’re in a hurry to park, it could be frustrating, especially if the driver didn’t give enough indication of their intentions.

I haven’t looked at studies of this phenomenon, and I’m not sure they exist. But, anecdotally, here’s my experience, along with reasons I think that in the vast majority of situations, it is for both the individual and the greater good to back into a perpendicular parking space.

Parking can be just about as quick when backing in. Having the wheels that steer in back makes it easier to angle in sharply in reverse, reducing or eliminating the need to back out and straighten up.

Leaving the parking space is much quicker as you save another multi-part turn. More than likely, you’re making up more time on your exit than you sacrificed backing in. That saves everyone around you time, too. This is especially true for event parking when everyone is leaving at once.

It’s safer for you and yours. Backing out of a perpendicular parking spot in a tight parking structure meant I was putting my child (or anyone in the back seat) in harm’s way before I could even assess the situation. The proliferation of rearview cameras has helped. Rear cross-traffic alerts and automatic rear braking help even more, but we shouldn’t put ourselves in positions where we totally rely on this tech or, even worse, rely on others to see or anticipate you backing out.

It’s safer for everyone around you, too. You can actually see that person walking by on the way to their own car, and you can see that vehicle waiting for someone else back out.

It can save dings or scrapes. Whatever car I’m driving is more likely to have a rearview camera than to have one up front. With that camera, I can ensure I’m not going to scrape a splitter on a curb or tap a signpost or another car with my bumper. If I’m pulling in forward, I often leave myself enough distance to know my front end isn’t going to get mangled by its surroundings, which can leave my rear end sticking out where it’s more likely to get hit. Backing in and using the camera, I can close that gap as much as I want, tucking my car into its parking spot as deeply as possible. But hey, you don’t have to take my word for it.

What if someone encroaches too close so you can’t reverse? Well, what do you do when you parallel park on a street? You had your turn signal on (please tell me you had your turn signal on) to indicate where you planned on parking. They should have paid attention, and the onus is on them to figure it out. They get to decide whether to back up to give you the room back (assuming they can), or go around you.

Of course, there are times when it doesn’t make sense to back in. Maybe you need the extra space to load up the rear cargo area. With some electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf, it sometimes makes more sense to park nose-in for easier charger access. And obviously, if a sign or parking attendant instructs you to park nose-in, you should listen, even if it’s a dumb rule … James.

So have at it. Just like I’ll leave you room to merge at an actual merge point, I’ll gladly wait for you to back into your parking space so I don’t have to wait for you to blindly back out of it later. This is the way.

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