The left reverse is probably the most tricky of all the manoeuvres – in fact most of us find it’s a bit of an art form! However, there is science to it and it can be broken down into five basic stages with the advantage that it’s then much easier to understand and learn.
In it’s simplest form, it can be thought of as: a straight reverse towards the corner; a few left turns of the wheel; and then another straight reverse.
What follows though, is a more detailed explanation (pictures coming soon)
1. Stop about two car lengths away from the corner you are about to reverse left into. (This is standard procedure on the driving test).
2. When ready, move off safely, passing the corner and stopping about two cars lengths past the corner.
HANDY TIP: It is best to position the car a little further out from the kerb than normal as you are going to be reversing and want to make it easy for yourself! The front passenger door handle just off the kerb as viewed in the left mirror is a good positioning reference point
HANDY TIP: as you pass the corner try and gauge its shape and any potential obstacles around the corner. Keep your eye on the road ahead though!
3. Prepare the car for a straight reverse: With the handbrake on, select reverse gear and find the biting point. Check all round – including the blind spot – to check its safe before slowly moving off. Then, slowly reverse in a straight line towards the corner until the point at which you can no longer see the kerb out of the rear window. You are nearly there!
4. Continue to reverse for a few feet more until the kerb starts to move away as seen in the left mirror. This is the stage at which you introduce small amounts of left lock to follow the kerb. I’ll explain this in greater detail in the section on accuracy.
5. Then, as we follow the kerb there comes a point where it it’s time to straighten up – which again we will explain in greater detail in the section on accuracy. However, basically you can tell looking out the rear by the position of your rear windscreen wiper in relation to the centre of the road.
6. Continue to reverse in a straight like at least two car lengths or, if there are hazard lines in the middle of the road, three hazard lines. Finish by making the car safe.
HANDY TIP: when you have completed the manoeuvre and are asked to move off do safely! Don’t rush!
HANDY TIP: be aware that roads are often wider at their end for some reason!
Three basic skills:
To execute this manoeuvre the car has to be kept at a slow but steady speed (less than 5mph) I call it granny walking speed! This requires good clutch control and is exactly the same control used in edging the car slowly forward towards a junction, so practicing a straight reverse first is a pre-requisite.
This is key to this manoeuvre: as traffic can come from up to three directions as you reverse:- (a) from ahead; (b) from behind and (c) from the road you are reversing into.
Additionally, you have to be careful to watch out for pedestrians and cyclists!
Let’s deal with each of the three scenarios
a) From ahead:
As you reverse towards the corner vehicles may come towards you from in front on the other side of the road. If the road is wide you may decide the risk is low and carry on. If you stop then you may wish to indicate.
b) From behind:
as you reverse towards the corner vehicles may come towards you on your side of the road. You must stop as it is their right of way. You may wish to indicate left as with the reverse lights that will make it clear your intentions.
c) From behind when entering the corner:
if you are in the process of turning into the corner and a vehicle comes from behind then you must give way, stop and probably pull forward back around the corner.
Additionally, if a vehicle turns into the road at the same time as you then you may wish to lower the risk by stopping.
Observation can be greatly improved in this manoeuvre with a method: with my pupils I use what I call the 360 degree method to ensure that ‘all around ‘ observation is maintained at all times while carrying out the manoeuvre:
- Look in the left mirror (this is the point you decide how much left turn)
- Look ahead.
- Look in right blind spot,
- Look behind and over left shoulder,
- Look behind and out of rear passenger window
- Back to start…..
HANDY TIP: try and judge where the kerb is using the rear passenger window. This is much easier for the taller of us. The benefit is that, because you can’t see the kerb you don’t tend to get too close to it!
HANDY TIP: Never reverse only using the centre mirror!
Now we come to the bit that most people find the most difficult. How do you follow that kerb without hitting it and either failing the test or damaging a tyre?
The basic method is:
As you check the left mirror as part of the 360 sequence and the kerb is moving away from you then add a small 1/4 of a left turn (from 12 o’clock to 9 c’clock. Note, unless its a really tight one, most corners will need only 3/4 of a left turn of the steering wheel. So, if you count you turn you will know when to straighten off!
- Don’t turn too early. Wait until you can see the kerb moving away in the left door mirror. Another problem, is sometimes corners start off shallow and then tighten up. If you put too much lock on too early in the turn then you can start to come too close to the kerb. If this happens don’t hit the kerb, so either stop or turn off the lock!
- Keep the car moving at a reasonable speed – granny walking speed. If the car goes too slow or too fast this can cause problems.
- Over use of the left mirror. This is fixed by the 360 method. Remember, the left mirror has an inaccurate and restricted view. As its a convex mirror it makes the kerb look further away than it really is plus from a safety point of view you can see little else. Even if you can’t see the kerb out of the rear passenger window, if you use this you will begin to imagine where the kerb is!Tip: Don’t allow the kerb to leave the left mirror – you are too far out!
Tip remember that if you successfully and safely complete the manoeuvre (even if badly) – you will pass your test!
Tip : Watch where the bonnet is. If looking forward I want my bonnet to go left I turn the steering wheel to the right and visa versa.
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