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Manoeuvres – Reversing Behind a Car

June 3, 20140 Comments

Video Transcript

This week is the final blog about manoeuvres and we are going to be looking at reverse parking or parallel parking behind a car in the street.

We tend to start this with no cars behind at the beginning of this lesson to build up confidence. Always choose a location where cars can get past so you must have enough room on your right for cars to pass. On the learner test they always do this manoeuvre where cars can go past.

There are loads of different methods to do this manoeuvre and I am not going to go through them all with you. You can see these methods online so I am going to focus on the methods not to use.

I wouldn’t use any methods that use the object car – the car you are reversing behind as a reference point except for when you start to turn. So basically, when you see the back of the car in the passenger back side window that is when the pupil should start to turn because we are level or slightly forward which is fine. You don’t want to be too far back because you will have too much room then and that is not realistic in everyday driving and reversing.

So we do all of our observations, looking around and making sure there is no one there before we start the reverse park. Lots of methods I know then say you should steer to the left and when the wing mirror lines up with their wing mirror or the corner of the back of their car or halfway along the number plate etc, take the turns off and when their wing mirror lines up with the left brake light then steer to the right. These methods seem quite good and they do work but all of these 6 or 7 different ways of doing a reverse park all basically line the right hand side of the car with the right hand side of object car at the end of the manoeuvre. So if that object car happens to be a smart car then you are going to end up hitting the kerb or if the object car is a van then you will end up quite a long way out from the kerb. Also if the object is a skip which obviously has no brake lights or number plates then this can confuse your pupils once they have passed their tests.   It won’t be a skip on test; it will be a vehicle but in theory, the vehicle could be short, thin, long or wide. Also the object car could be half way on the pavement and you don’t want your pupil to end up half way on the pavement.

So you want to use a method that lines your right hand side of the car with their right hand side of the car. The methods that line the mirror up with something etc are all based on the object car and that is a problem.   Always try and practice this manoeuvre with lots of different sized object cars and maybe cars parked half on the pavement or a long way from the kerb. Then your pupils will not get used to just parking behind standard cars.

Also think about your pupils reverse parking where the object car is facing the wrong way which uses different reference points and can confuse the pupil also.

I would use the object car to begin with and then we want to create an angle.   We want to create an angle of roughly 45° or less and when we are about a foot or so from the kerb we steer to the right. What I have been doing a lot of recently is that I get them next to the car and say “when you did your reverse around the corner (as I have done this already with them) where was your straight reverse reference point so you knew you were 6 inches from the kerb?” They should be able to tell you where this is for them so now you can tell them to get that reference point on the edge of the curb behind you. It sounds really simple but 9 out of 10 have ended up behind the car with the reference point on the kerb. Some may have gone quite a long way back to achieve this but your pupil will get that perspective.

If you want a method then basically do one full lock to create a 45° angle, take the turn off and go back until you are about a foot from the kerb using your mirror or reference point out of the back window, then one turn or full lock to the right and straighten up. This will work each time because your pupil is lining the car up with the curb or grass verge rather than the object car.

I would suggest letting your pupils have a go first themselves with some guidance. We don’t have to teach our pupils how to pull out and go straight so there is really no reason why we have to go into so much detail when reversing in. If you have done what we talked about in previous blogs about getting our pupils to reverse at the very early stages then they shouldn’t have a great fear of reversing anyway.

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About the Author ()

Blaine Walsh is the owner of, has been a driving instructor trainer for 15 years and a driving instructor for over 20 years. When he first qualified Blaine admits his was not a very good instructor, became disillusioned, was not retaining pupils and not making any money, so he quit full time teaching. After spending time self-reflecting, he had a light bulb moment and realised that he needed to put more explanation, effort and enthusiasm into teaching learners. Since then he has not looked back and is now regarded as one of the top trainers in the country.

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