- Do you want to know how to reverse a car safely?
- Do you want to know how to reverse a car so that you can pass your driving test?
- Do you want to know how to reverse a car and be confident and accurate?
As part of your Driving Test or Part 2 Instructor Test you will be asked to perform one of four manoeuvres
- Reverse Bay Park
- Forward Bay Park
- Parallel Park
- Pull up on the Right and Reverse
For any manoeuvre you perform, you can use the same tips and techniques for being able to do it accurately and with confidence.
In this blog I will give you 10 Top Tips for Reversing safely and accurately. These tips will help you to be able to answer any question in your theory test, reverse or manoeuvre a car in a way that is safe and legal, and be able to reverse a car with more accuracy.
Adjust Door Mirrors
Most cars have adjustable door mirrors. You can adjust them either electrically or manually, so it’s a good idea to adjust your door mirrors so that they are pointing downwards, and he can clearly see the curb.
You must remember to readjust your mirrors before driving away again.
Alternatively, you may choose to buy some small blind spot mirrors. These can be purchased for just a few pounds and easily stick onto your door mirrors.
If you can see the curb it’s a lot easier to judge if you’re getting too close or too far from it, and therefore you can be much more accurate in your manoeuvre.
You are allowed to remove your seat belt when performing any manoeuvre that involves reversing.
Some people find it difficult to turn around and look out of the rear window with a seat belt on and taking the seat belt off makes things much easier for them.
If you were having driving lessons or preparing to take a driving test, I would advise you to keep your seat belt on while performing your manoeuvres if possible. As soon as you drive away again in a forward gear you will need to have your seat belt on. If you forget to put it on you would be breaking the law.
Select Reverse Gear
The first thing you should do when you about to reverse is to put the car into reverse gear. This may sound obvious, but some people may decide that they are on a downhill slope and don’t actually need to put the car into the correct gear. The car will roll backwards, downhill.
When you put your car into reverse gear, reversing lights will illuminate at the back of the car. This is a warning to other road users that you plan to reverse.
If you don’t put the car into reverse gear other road users behind you might not realise you are about to reverse and come too close to you or walk behind your car.
Before starting to move your car, you should check all around the car. Start from your right blind spot, your right door mirror, ahead and your middle mirror, your left door mirror and finally your left blind spot but. Then as you’re about to move look out of your rear window.
As you are moving keep checking all around. Look for pedestrians’, children, dog walkers, cyclists and other vehicles or road users.
Continue checking all around throughout the whole of your reversing manoeuvre.
Reverse Very Slowly
Keep the car moving very very slowly, you’re aiming for a very slow walking pace. This will give you so much more time to focus on being safe and being accurate. It will also give you time to react to other road users approaching you.
If you are driving a manual car you keep the car slow by using good clutch control skills. You will keep the car on biting point, if you’re moving too quickly put the clutch down a bit, if you’re moving too slowly bring the clutch up a bit.
‘Clutch Up Speeds Up – Clutch Down Slows Down’
By a bit, I mean about the thickness of a pound coin. So, you are only moving the clutch up and down buy very tiny amounts.
You need to be aware that you may be moving faster than you think you are, this is common when people are learning to reverse. To help with this look at the pavement or the road and you will easier realise how fast you are actually moving.
Is It Safe?
If you are not sure if it’s safe to reverse, you must either get out and check or ask somebody reliable to check for you.
It is not as easy to see clearly around you while you’re reversing, and you must be absolutely certain that the location you have chosen to reverse is safe. Remember children can be very difficult to see due to their size.
Which Way Shall I Steer?
Some people get confused about which way to turn the steering wheel while they’re reversing. This can be because the wheels that turn are at the front of the car, and you are looking out of the back of the car. It takes more time when you’re reversing for the steering to start to take effect. Therefore, some people believe they have steered in the wrong direction, or that they need much more steering than they have put on.
When you are moving the car backwards, and you need to steer, think about where you want the back of the car to go. And then steer in that direction. So, if you want the back of the car to get closer to the curb, then steer left towards the curb. If you want the back of the car to move away from the curb, to get further away from the curb, then steer right away from the curb.
Think about how much steering you would put on if you were driving forwards. And then put that amount of steering on and have patience for that steering to start to take effect. You will be moving very very slowly so you will have plenty of time to adjust your steering if necessary.
Finish With Straight Wheels
Finish the manoeuvre with straight wheels.
If you have steered for more than one full steer, it can be difficult to know when your wheels are straight.
In this situation I will say to a learner driver, you have to ‘move it to prove it’.
This means, get the steering wheel to what you think is straight. Then move the car for the tiniest distance. This small amount of moving will let you know whether you are moving in a straight line or not. If the car moves to one side, in one direction, then your steering wheel is not straight. You have one full steer on. Move the steering wheel one full steer in the other direction and your wheels will now be straight.
Don’t worry if you start to steer the wrong way, you are moving very slowly and have plenty of time to readjust.
Practice – Practice – Practice
When starting to learn how to reverse a car it’s a really good idea to take yourself somewhere really quiet, maybe to a deserted car park.
Practise when there are no other road users or pedestrians around.
Practise driving in a straight line, before moving on to steering to the right and to the left.
Experiment with the steering, at the same time as moving your car very slowly.
You can ask the person who is accompanying you to keep a look out for other road users so that you can just focus on your speed and steering.
Once you’re ready to take this new skill onto a road, start on a quiet road at a quiet time of day.
Practice moving away from and getting closer to the kerb. Practice on different gradients.
You now need to start taking responsibility for knowing what’s around and keeping yourself your passenger and other road users safe.
It is important that you know that you must never reverse out of a side road and onto a main road. This is potentially very dangerous as the vehicle on the main road will not be expecting a car to reverse out in front of them.
Don’t Be A Hazard!
When you perform any manoeuvre, you will become much more of a hazard to approaching vehicles once you start to steer.
Before steering, check all around including both blind spots. Once you start to steer your car will swing out into the road which could be a problem for other vehicles or cyclist passing by.
If a vehicle or cyclist is around, and you must stop and wait for them to pass by. When you are reversing you are doing the wrong thing in the road and therefore must allow other road users to pass by you before continuing.
If the other road user decides to stop and allow you to complete your manoeuvre, then you should carry on. Keep a close eye on them though, they may decide to continue driving before you’ve finished manoeuvring. If they do, you are expected to stop and wait.
I hope the tips in this blog help you to understand how to reverse safely and accurately and give you more confidence to perform any reversing manoeuvre.
If you are learning to be a driving instructor, the same tips and advice applies, but you must be able to perform the manoeuvres with great accuracy and you must keep the car moving if it’s safe to do so and no other road users want to pass.
This manoeuvres video will give you more tips and advice:
If you want to be able to perform manoeuvres accurately, please see here for my Online Manoeuvres Workshop:
I’d be really interested to know how you get on with learning to reverse and manoeuvre a car.
Spot On Driving