Louise Kirkpatrick owns a driving school in the East Midlands region of England.
Tips for Reversing Around a Corner
Reversing around a corner is one of the manoeuvres you may be asked to show the examiner on your driving test.
You will usually be asked to reverse round a corner into a side road on your left. It is unlikely (but not impossible!) that you will be asked to reverse into a side road on your right.
The aim of this manoeuvre is for you to reverse into the new road, smoothly and under control, keeping reasonably close to the kerb. You will also be expected to carry out all appropriate safety procedures and checks whilst doing so. This will demonstrate to the driving examiner that you can control the car safely and reverse with reasonable accuracy.
A lot of learner drivers dread reversing around corners; but, like anything, it's easy when you know how—and practice makes perfect! On this page, you will find step-by-step instructions and video tutorials to help you learn how to do a perfect reverse around a corner—both to the left and to the right.
For UK Drivers
The advice given on this page is intended only for UK drivers and those taking the UK Practical Driving Test.
Please be aware that road traffic legislation, and what is considered good driving practice, varies throughout the world.
When the Driving Examiner Asks You to Back Around a Corner
If the examiner asks you to do a reverse around a corner on your driving test, it will usually be a reverse into a side road on your left.
There is nothing to stop the examiner from asking you to reverse into a side road on your right—but in practice, the right corner reverse is usually only carried out in vehicles that have limited rear visibility, such as vans.
It is useful, though, to know how to do a right reverse because knowing how to reverse around a corner to the right could come in very handy if you ever need to turn around in a situation where there is no side road to the left, or where the road is too narrow to allow you to do a turn in the road.
On your driving test (assuming that the examiner wants a left reverse), you will be asked to pull up at the side of the road just before you reach the road that the examiner wants you to reverse into. You'll then be asked something along the lines of:
"I would like you to reverse into the next road on the left. Drive past it and stop, then reverse for some distance up the new road keeping a position which is parallel and reasonably close to the kerb."
Left Reverse Around a Corner, Step by Step
Here's a summarised list of what's required for backing around a corner to the left.
For those who prefer instructions given visually, there are some tutorial videos further down the page. Some are accompanied by an audio commentary for those who like to listen to what they need to do.
- After the examiner has told you what they want you to do, drive on past the road into which you will be reversing. Pull up a couple of car lengths from the corner and about one drain's width (approx 2 feet) away from the kerb. As you go past the side road, quickly assess it so that you know what to expect—what type of corner/how sharp is the turn, are there any obstructions or children playing in the road, etc. Handbrake on, gear lever into neutral, and make sure your indicators are switched off.
- Full observation all round. If clear, select reverse gear and start to reverse. No signals are needed.
- Looking mainly over your left shoulder, through the rear windscreen, reverse slowly back to where the back wheels of the car are approximately in line with the point where the kerb starts to bend (this is known as the turning point).
- The front of the car will swing out when you start your turn, so at this point you MUST take thorough observations by checking for traffic both ways and for pedestrians behind—don't forget to check your blind spot as well.
- If clear, keep moving backwards slowly and turn the wheel between one half and three-quarters of a turn (180° to 270°). The amount of steering required will depend on how sharp the corner is.
- Reverse for approximately one car length looking only out of the rear windscreen.
- Glance in the left door mirror to check your position relative to the kerb. If you are getting significantly closer to the kerb, turn the wheel one-quarter of a turn to the right. If you are getting significantly further away from the kerb, turn the wheel one-quarter of a turn to the left. If your distance from the kerb appears to be largely unchanged, do not adjust the wheel. Keep checking all around as you complete the manoeuvre (including your blind spot), especially for anyone coming around the corner as you turn.
- Keep looking well down the road through the middle of the rear window. This will help you judge whether the car is parallel with the kerb. When the position of the kerb reaches the middle of the rear windscreen, straighten the wheel and reverse for 2 to 3 car lengths from the junction before stopping. Put the handbrake on, gear lever into neutral, and wait for further instructions from the examiner.
See below for a video tutorial on how to reverse around a corner to the right.
What If Another Car Comes Up Behind Me?
If a vehicle comes up behind you as you reverse into the new road, you must STOP.
If the approaching vehicle doesn't stop, wait until they pass and then carry on.
If the vehicle stops behind you, then you are causing an obstruction so you will have to get out of their way by going forwards back to your start position and begin the manoeuvre again when it is clear and safe to do so.
Reversing Around a Corner Dos and Don't's!
- Good observations all around are VITAL.
- Show consideration for other road users. Be prepared to STOP and get out of their way if you cause an obstruction.
- Keep reasonably close to the kerb and on your side of the road.
- Don't hit the kerb or swing out wide.
- Don't take too long!
Common Mistakes When Reversing Around a Corner
Mistakes that could result in driving test faults when doing the reverse around a corner manoeuvre during your driving test:
- Poor coordination of controls
- Mounting the pavement or kerb
- Turning the wheel the wrong way
- Going wide after the corner
- Finishing at a wide angle away from the kerb
- Touching the kerb
- Taking too long to complete the manoeuvre
- No blind spot checks
- No observation at or before the point of turn
- Excessive use of the door mirrors
- Not looking directly behind
- Not reacting to passing or approaching vehicles
- Not reacting to pedestrians
- Waiting unnecessarily for other road users
What If I Think I've Made a Mistake?
Don't assume you've failed simply because you don't end up completely straight or you feel you're a bit further out from the kerb than you'd like to be!
The examiner is NOT looking for perfection—as long as you've taken effective observation and used the controls smoothly and haven't taken too long, hit the kerb, mounted the pavement or ended up on the wrong side of the road, the chances are that if you have made a mistake, it hasn't been a big one.
It's sometimes easier to actually see something done, rather than just read a set of instructions!
The following videos will give you visual instructions to help you learn how to do the reverse around a corner manoeuvre.
All the videos are presented in a different format—two are animated and two are "real-life" driving lessons presented by a fully qualified DVSA Approved Driving Instructor.
Reverse Around a Left Hand Corner
Another Video on Reversing Round a Left Corner
Reversing Around a Corner to the Right
Can You Take Your Seatbelt Off When Reversing on Your Driving Test?
Yes, you can take your seatbelt off when carrying out any of the reversing manoeuvres on your driving test—but it's not advisable.
It's very easy to forget to put it back on afterwards—which won't impress the examiner at all!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2009 LouiseKirkpatrick