Both experienced and inexperienced drivers may have difficulty reversing. Reversing can be tricky because the wheels that steer are in front of you as you go backwards. In addition, you can't see everything well. But driving slowly and paying close attention to what's around you can significantly improve your reversing skills.
Method 1 of 3: Reversing in a straight line
Step 1. Do a '360-degree check'
A 360-degree check is done by actively turning your head and shoulders around the car in a full circle. Check that there is nothing in the way or moving forward that you need to watch out for before driving backwards yourself.
- You can use your mirrors as an extra check, but it's important that you actively look around to make sure you're not missing anything.
- Look down at the ground on both sides of your car, both with your head and in the mirrors, to make sure there are no people or animals in the way.
Step 2. Put your right foot on the brake pedal
Whether you're driving forwards or backwards, your right foot is the only foot you can use for the accelerator and brake pedals. With a manual transmission car you use your left foot for the clutch, but with an automatic you don't use your left foot at all. Press the brake pedal firmly with your right foot so that you do not drive when you put the car in reverse.
- The brake pedal is the center pedal on a manual transmission, and the brake pedal is the left pedal on an automatic transmission.
- The brake pedal is also the widest pedal.
Step 3. Place your left hand on top of the handlebar, in the middle
Normally you drive with your hands at ten o'clock and two o'clock, but when reversing you need to be able to turn your body to the right. So place your hand on top of the steering wheel so that you can easily make small adjustments to make the car drive back as straight as possible.
It can be difficult to reach the steering wheel with your right hand when reversing, so one-handed steering works best
Step 4. Put the car in reverse
Depending on the type of car you have, there are different ways to put a car into reverse. With an automatic, you normally press the button on the gear lever and pull the lever back until it is at the letter 'R'. With manual transmission cars you usually have to move the lever all the way to the left and then forward.
- On some manual transmission cars, the reverse is all the way to the right and then backwards.
- On some cars you first have to push the lever down to put the car in reverse, or sometimes you have to press a button first.
- Consult the manual if you do not know how to put your car in reverse.
Step 5. Turn your body to the right and look through the rear window of the car
Assuming your view is not obstructed, turn your body toward the passenger seat so that you can look over your shoulder through the rear window. Don't take your foot off your brake pedal yet. If you're driving a van or other car where you can't see through the rear window, you have to rely on the side mirrors.
- You can choose to place your right hand on the top of the passenger seat for easier viewing behind.
- When reversing on your mirrors, make sure to switch mirrors so you can keep a close eye on both sides.
Step 6. Carefully remove your foot from the brake pedal
If you let your right foot come up slightly, the car will start backing up. In most cars, the idle speed is high enough to allow the car to reverse without having to accelerate.
- Let your foot come up slowly so you don't accelerate too fast to maintain control of the vehicle.
- Press the brake pedal again to slow down while backing up.
- With a manual transmission car you first have to give it a little throttle when you release the clutch, but then you can let the engine idle again.
Method 2 of 3: Steer while reversing
Step 1. Turn your steering wheel in the direction you want to steer the rear of the car
The dynamics of reversing are very different from normal driving, because the wheels you steer with are at the front of the car. While backing up, you can make minor adjustments by turning the steering wheel in the direction you want to steer the rear of the car.
- If you steer your steering wheel to the left while backing up, the rear of the car will turn to the left, and vice versa.
- Stop the car if you're not sure which way you're steering, and don't drive until you regain control of the steering.
Step 2. See how much space you have in the front
When you steer the car, the front of the car will swerve in the opposite direction to the rear. So check the area around the front of the car regularly as you back up slowly to make sure you don't hit anything or run over anything with the front wheels.
- If you steer the rear to the left, the front of the car will swerve to the right, and vice versa.
- Drive slowly enough to check the front of the car regularly without hitting anything.
Step 3. Move your right foot to the accelerator if necessary
If you're backing up on a slope or if you need to turn a corner, you may need to accelerate while backing up. Once your right foot is completely off the brake pedal, you can move that foot to the accelerator pedal to the right of the brake. Give a little bit of throttle so that you can keep the acceleration under control.
- Subtly adjust the speed by slightly depressing the accelerator pedal.
- When you have enough speed, or if you need to slow down, you can put your foot back on the brake pedal.
Step 4. Use both hands to steer as you round the corner
If you need to steer around an obstacle when reversing, it is better to use both hands to keep control of your steering wheel. With one hand you can normally only turn your handlebars 90 degrees in either direction, so if you need to steer further you will need both hands. Just make sure you can still look back when using both hands on the handlebars.
Never cross your hands when steering. Instead, you push the handlebars with one hand while pulling with the other
Step 5. Never drive faster than a comfortable speed
Driving in reverse feels very different from driving forward, and you always see a lot less when you reverse. Make sure you are not in a hurry, take your time to avoid accidents.
- Never drive in a way that feels unsafe.
- Stop the car for a break if you're not sure.
Step 6. Firmly depress the brake pedal with your right foot to stop
When you've backed up far enough, put your foot back on the brake pedal and push the brake pedal down evenly for a smooth stop. Do not suddenly apply too much force, because then the car will come to a very sudden stop.
- Always use only your right foot to operate the brake pedal.
- Keep your foot on the brake pedal after stopping the car.
Step 7. Put the car in park or apply the parking brake when you are done
In an automatic, hold down the brake pedal with your foot and move the lever forward to the P position. In a manual transmission car, you put the car in neutral and apply the handbrake.
If you don't know how to operate the parking brake, read your car manual
Method 3 of 3: Reversing your mirrors
Step 1. Check your mirrors before you start
If you can't see out the rear window of your car, you will have to use your side mirrors to reverse. Before you start, adjust the mirrors properly so that you can see the sides of the car, the ground and moving traffic behind you.
Most cars allow you to adjust both mirrors with buttons from your seat, but some cars require you to manually adjust them side by side
Step 2. Check both mirrors regularly
When you drive backwards on your mirrors you can only see what is behind the car on that side, so it is very important to keep changing mirrors so that you can keep an eye on both sides. This way you prevent that you accidentally hit something, or that you do not see something coming from one particular side.
- If you're reversing on your mirrors, you'll have to slow down even more to make sure you're not overlooking anything.
- It can help to keep a closer eye on the mirror on the side of an obstacle, in order to keep a good distance.
Step 3. Ask a friend to help you
If you have to reverse on your mirrors in a difficult area, it may be a good idea to ask a friend to help you. Remember you can never see everything. So if possible, ask a friend to keep a close eye on the distances to objects while you make sure you can see your friend in your mirrors. Then the chance that you hit something is much smaller.
- Have your friend stand behind the car on one side so you can keep a close eye on his or her directions
- Open your windows and turn off the radio so you can hear your friend's instructions when backing up.