Reversing is an essential skill for general driving, whether for changing our travel direction, parking in a car park or at the roadside or perhaps a turn in the road. A reasonable degree of proficiency driving forwards is needed before attempting to learn the set-piece manoeuvres in progress with driving skills and prevent any unnecessary disappointments that can undermine confidence, attitude and learning. To avoid collisions and avoid the potential for costly repairs, as a newly qualified driver one has to accurately adapt their reversing skills to a different vehicle from that which they learnt in. It is important to adapt to techniques like using reference and focal points, to a new field of reference. When reversing, you must only turn the steering wheel while the vehicle is moving and alternative hand holds on the steering wheel may well make manoeuvres easier, especially in a confined space.

The necessary skills are;

 The Preparation Observation Manoeuvre (POM) routine when moving off at the start of the reverse

 The manoeuvring skills involving use of clutch and gas pedal or just the brake pedal in coordination with the steering.

 Using the reverse gear.

It is important to turn in the seat so as to see properly through the rear window while reversing.

Reverse Around a corner

Under Control

Co-ordination of the foot controls with the steering

Not Reversing

Too quickly

Excessively slowly


Correctly Steering for intended course

Not Reversing

Too close or too far from the kerb

With Observation

Where to look

Before reversing

While reversing


Forward at the point of turn


Sensibly on whats seen


Below are some of the important things to remember while learning the reversing technique;

 The importance of using the POM/MSM (Prepare Observe Manoeuvre/Mirror Signal Manoeuvre) routines.

 Control : co-ordinating the foot controls with steering and not reversing too fast or too slowly

 Accuracy: keeping reasonably close to the kerb using focal and reference points.

 Observation: the importance of zone of vision. Observe before starting the reverse, during the reverse, at the point of turn and also while giving way to other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians where necessary.

The left Reverse: Pull over and park on the left just before the corner you want to reverse around. Before moving away and pulling up beyond the corner to start reversing always remember to look into the junction and follow the MSM routine. Look at the curve of the corner – is it gentle or sharp? The car should be roughly two car lengths past the corner. This left reverse exercise can be divided into three stages as below;

1. Straight reverse-

 POM routine

 Control and accuracy – The car should be about 45cm (18 inches) from the kerb. The position of the car should be taken into consideration through the rear window. Use a focal point at the bottom of the rear window that suits your height and driving position.

 Observation – over the left shoulder to achieve rear vision including glancing forward, to the sides and in the mirrors. Reverse very slowly, keeping the car parallel with the kerb. Put the gear into reverse and find the biting point and look all around to check if it is safe to move and release the handbrake. Look over your left shoulder and gradually raise the clutch. Keep the speed of the car slow and steady as you move backwards using clutch control. Pull up just before the rear nearside wheel reaches the point of turn. Use a reference point outside the car such as a point on one of the kerbstones.

2. The corner-

 POM – the general rule is to follow the kerb as it disappears from view in the rear window and reappears in the nearside rear window.

 Control and accuracy – At the point of turn, the amount of steering to the left needed depends on how sharp the corner is. You have to be extremely careful at this point as when you start to steer, the rear of the car will swing to the middle of the road. Start to move slowly while steering to the left following the curb around keeping the reference point in place. Half way round the corner pause and check for other road users. Carry on reversing if it is safe and clear. As you continue following the curb you will see it starts disappearing from the side window of the car, do not add any more steering but maintain the same amount of lock until you see the curb reappear in the rear window and move into your straight line reference point.

 Observation – Look in the direction of travel. Do keep checking ahead and in the blind spots. If another road user approaches on the main road, a decision to pause or continue has to be made. It can sometimes be better to keep moving and clear the junction, rather than becoming an obstruction by waiting. Keep your speed down to stay in control. Check how close you are to the kerb by glancing in the left door mirror occasionally.

3. Straight reverse –

 Control and accuracy – Straighten the car up (using the focal point) and keep a reasonable distance from the kerb while travelling back. This is when you take off the lock that you have put on and realign the wheels. Ones the car is straight keep looking through the rear car window and reverse for three car lengths till you come to a halt. When you stop apply the handbrake and select neutral and remember to wear your seat belt if you took it off and take overall observations before you move off.


 Observation – Over the left shoulder with glances forwards and to the sides. If another driver appears to the rear, consider the necessary action which will minimise any inconvenience or potential danger. It may be necessary to pull forwards around the corner to allow the vehicle to pass.


Reverse around right-hand corner: is needed as it is a safer way to manoeuvre a van or other vehicle with limited/poor side or rear vision. This right reverse exercise can be divided into three stages as below;

1. Straight reverse-

 POM routine

 Control and accuracy – Move the vehicle back slowly, keeping it reasonably close to the kerb. To ensure accuracy it is acceptable to use the offside mirror. The driver should also look over the right shoulder and if necessary wind the window down. Keep a close check on how close the car is to the kerb and the corner. Pull up before the offside rear wheel reaches the point of turn. Use a suitable reference point if necessary.

 Observation – As well as following the kerb, the driver must also glance ahead frequently, as well as in the left door mirror. In a car, the observation needs to be mainly in the direction of travel. Keep looking all round and respond sensibly to any approaching traffic.

2. The corner-


 Control and accuracy – The amount of steering, and how quickly this needs to be used, depends on how sharp or gentle the corner is.

 Observation – Before steering, look all around and then over the right shoulder, through the offside window. Do keep looking all round. While reversing, keep checking ahead, making glances in the door mirrors as well as over to the left in a car. If another driver approaches on the main road, judge whether you can keep moving or need to wait while the driver passes.

3. Straight reverse –

 Control and accuracy – Straighten the steering so that the car is parallel with the kerb, keep it a reasonable distance from the kerb – not too far and not too close. As the car is on the opposite side of the road, it is safer to travel back a greater distance before finishing the manoeuvre. This will minimise danger from other vehicles turning into the junction.

 Observation – As soon as the car becomes parallel with the kerb, resume all round observation. Focus on the direction of travel, glancing ahead and in the left door mirror as well. During this manoeuvre, where another road user appears to be close, consider the necessary action that will minimise any inconvenience or potential danger.


Frequently asked questions-

1. Is it okay to remove the seat belt for reversing?

Reversing a car requires that you twist round in your seat, looking over your left shoulder to observe out of the rear windscreen where you are going. You may find this a little restrictive whilst your seat belt is on. You are legally entitled to remove your seat belt whilst reversing. If you find it easier to remove the seat belt, do this during the driving test too. If it makes no difference, then simply leave it on. Don't forget to put it back on at any time you drive forward.

Food for thought – (You should give a think to the below and discuss this with your instructor)

How will you judge your distance from the corner?



Contents of this lesson are taken from:

DVLA – The Official Highway Code

Adi News Magazine

LDC Driving School’s YouTube videos

Image taken from

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