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Reversing Safely

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 5 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Reversing Safely

Reversing a vehicle is one of the most dangerous driving manoeuvres, as it is difficult to get a good enough view of the road behind you (without checking your blind spot).

When Not to Reverse

There are some situations in which it is not safe to attempt to reverse. These include:
  • Busy roads, as there will usually be too much traffic in either direction for reversing safely. A quieter side road will usually be safer for reversing or turning around
  • If you do use a side street to reverse, do not reverse directly into a busy road from the side street, as you can't always see approaching traffic.


Look in all of your mirrors (both rear view and side mirrors) so that you can see as much of the road as possible. You should also check your blind spot so that you can get a full view of the road behind you. This will not be achieved simply by checking your mirrors. Most of your checking should be done through the rear mirror when you check your blind spot, as this will give the best view.

Remember that the front of your vehicle will swing out when you reverse around a corner, so you should always make sure that there is enough room to accommodate you before you start reversing.

If there are any obstacles blocking or partially obscuring your view of the road behind you (for example, parked vehicles, trees or buildings), you may want to ask a passenger (if one is travelling with you) to help you out. They may have a better view of things from their different positioning in the car. If it is safe to do so, he or she may be able to get out of the vehicle to offer you guidance when reversing (for example, by telling you how much space you have to work with, or when to stop reversing). This is particularly useful if you drive a long or large vehicle, as they can be tricky to reverse cleanly.

During the Reversing Manoeuvre

Before you start reversing, you need to slow down to a speed that is easy to control, put the indicator on to let other road users that you intend to pull in at the kerb and stop the car (especially when reversing around a corner). Once you have stopped, put the handbrake on to make sure the vehicle does not roll. Once you are ready to reverse, put the gear level in reverse (R).You should move off slowly. There is no need to use your indicators at this point, as this can create confusion for other drivers.

Once you have indicated, you should perform the manoeuvre as soon as it is safe to do so to avoid confusing other road users as to your intentions after this point. Keep as close to the kerb as you can (unless there are vehicles parked there).

When reversing around a corner, you will often need to treat it as two separate manoeuvres (firstly, to the edge of the corner, and secondly, around the corner). Trying to reverse in one manoeuvre is not always a good idea, as it can cause you to swing out too wide.

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