Reversing

Overview: 

To know and understand how to reverse your car smoothly and safely in different situations

Aims:

To be able to safely reverse your car on all road types and in different situations and circumstances

Objectives

  • To know what to check before and when reversing
  • How to position yourself in your seat to reverse
  • How to steer when reversing
  • When you must not reverse

Reversing will take practice to be able to reverse confidently every time. Remember your car will respond differently when reversing.

Always move your car slowly when reversing. This allows you to respond accurately and safely to what you are doing.

What to check before and when reversing

Observing all around you is as important when reversing as when you are driving forwards. Always:

  • Check for all other road users – including motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists as these groups may be more difficult to see
  • Check to the rear of your car – look out for pedestrians or children who may be about to cross behind you
  • Before reversing check all around you, over both shoulders and in all mirrors
  • If in any doubt get out and check your surroundings
  • Always carry out all of these checks BEFORE you begin reversing
  • Keep checking in all directions as you move backwards
  • Always be prepared to stop your car

Your position in your seat

When reversing turn slightly in your seat. You may remove your seatbelt to reverse if necessary – always make sure you put it back on before moving off.

If you are reversing straight back or to the left hold the steering wheel near the top (in the 12 o’clock position) with your right hand and with your left hand low on the steering wheel.

Reverse Assist Technology

Your car may have reverse assist technology. If your car does have this do not rely on this alone. Make sure you still observe all around you before and during reversing.

The two main types of reverse assist are:

Ultrasonic parking sensors – these sensors will beep when you are near to an object such as a wall

Near facing cameras – an image from a rear camera is shown on a screen on your car’s dashboard

How to steer when reversing 

Always avoid turning your cars steering wheel when it is not moving. This is known as dry steering and can cause damage to the wheels and the steering system.

Always coordinate your hand and foot controls so that your car moves smoothly.

As soon as you start reversing turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the rear of the vehicle to turn.

When reversing you may often find that you need to begin straightening up sooner than seems necessary.

Always reverse slowly to ensure you have time for keeping full control of the vehicle and so you can check for dangers and obstacles all around you.

Keep close to the kerb all of the time you are reversing, but do not mount or hit the kerb. As appropriate.

When you must not reverse 

Reversing your car in some situations may be dangerous for you and other road users.

You must never reverse your car in the following situations:

  • On a motorway or dual carriageway – if you miss your exit you must continue to the next exit and NEVER reverse your car. A maximum £2,500 fine and three penalty points are given to drivers who reverse on a motorway or dual carriageway
  • If you are on a side road do not reverse into a main road
  • For a longer distance than necessary. The Highway Code states that ‘you must not reverse your vehicle further than necessary’
  • In any situation where you do not feel it is safe to reverse. If necessary go round the long way.

Recap

Reversing confidently is a skill that will require you to practice.

Always remember to observe all around your car before and whilst reversing. Look out for dangers such as pedestrians and motorcyclists.

Never reverse on dual carriageways and motorways.

Avoid becoming an obstruction to others on the road, always reverse safely but without taking too long to carry out the manoeuvre.

You should know:

  • How to reverse
  • Where to look
  • What to look out for
  • When not to reverse

Further Reading:

The Highway Code Rule(s): 200-203

Driving The Essential Skills: Section(s) 9

On your driving test:

On test: Reversing

Assessment criteria: Reversing

Driving Examiner Guidance: Reversing

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