While driving forwards is easy, reversing is more difficult as it feels unnatural. But it’s something you have to get used to as a driver, and on your test you may well be asked to reverse round a corner to show that you can control a car going backwards.
The examiner will be making sure you can position your car safely while remaining aware of what’s going on around you. You’ll have to drive slowly, smoothly and with control and you’ll also have to remain close to the kerb without hitting it.
How to do it
You’ll almost certainly be asked to reverse to the left rather than to the right, in which case you’ll need to pull in to the left-hand side of the road, just before the junction into which you’ll reverse.
Having signalled that you’re pulling in (taking care not to confuse anyone into thinking you’re turning into the road rather than stopping just before it), you’ll need to cancel your indicator before then moving just past the junction, making sure that as you drive past the junction you look down the road you’re about to reverse into to ensure there’s no oncoming traffic or obstructions in the road.
Stop about half a metre from the kerb and around two car lengths past the junction, cancel your indicator and prepare to reverse.
To make it easier to see behind you can unclip your seatbelt, then check that all around is clear before you select reverse gear and start to drive backwards, ensuring you don’t use your indicators at all.
Looking through the back window, once the kerb comes into view through the side window turn the steering wheel to the left so the car follows the kerb line.
By doing this super-slowly you’ll be able to gauge how much you need to turn the wheel; as the front of the car moves round, make sure you remain aware of what’s going on around you, such as pedestrians or cars in the road you’re leaving as well as the one you’re driving into.
Once you’ve turned the corner, straighten up the steering wheel and ensure the car is running parallel to the kerb, using your passenger-side mirror if necessary.
Continue to monitor around the car, watching for other road users. If someone comes round the corner and you don’t notice, you’ll fail your test. If someone is coming, stop, let them pass then continue on your way once they’ve gone.
Stop as close to the kerb as you can manage, engage your handbrake and select neutral. Put your seatbelt back on then wait for the examiner’s next instruction.
Don’t worry if you’re not really close to the kerb or parallel with it; your examiner is looking for competence rather than perfection.
What if a car comes from behind?
If a vehicle drive towards you on the road you’re reversing round, let it continue on its journey. Once it has passed you, carry on with your manoeuvre.
If the vehicle stops behind you, you’re causing an obstruction so you’ll have to stop and move back to where you began your manoeuvre, just round the corner.
Should a vehicle drive up close behind you after you’ve turned the corner, but before you’ve been told you’ve gone far enough, wait to see if the examiner says you’ve gone far enough for him to decide whether or not the manoeuvre is complete. If he doesn’t say anything, drive back around the corner and start the manoeuvre again.