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Reversing a Car

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 Bojo 29 Sep 2022

For various reasons Mrs. Bojo has done very little driving over the last two or three years and she now seems to be terrified of reversing. She wants me to accompany her until she regains confidence.

When I reverse, apart from an occassional look behind I have got into the habit, where possible, of using my mirrors.

To what extent should a driver rely on mirrors when reversing?

4
 Jenny C 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

I'm almost totally reliant on mirrors, looking backwards I get confused over which way to turn the wheel.

Tbh best advice would be to book a few professional driving lessons as a refresher. Build up her confidence and save a heck of a lot of arguements.

1
 subtle 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

Look behind?

Use mirrors?

Sounds like its time to modernise the vehicle, get one with display and parking sensors, no need for anything else.

The above assuming you cant get a car with automatic revers parking.

(why else would you want to revers apart from parking) 

69
 Andy Hardy 29 Sep 2022
In reply to subtle:

[...]

> (why else would you want to revers apart from parking) 

Do you ever drive on single track roads?

 subtle 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Andy Hardy:

> [...]

> Do you ever drive on single track roads?

Yes, generally forwards.

And pull in at passing places if vehicle coming towards me.

Its called being polite.

108
 deacondeacon 29 Sep 2022
In reply to subtle:

You obviously don't drive down many single track roads lol

 storm-petrel 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

Has she (and you) tried the trick of putting your left arm behind the passenger seat and using it as a lever to look behind? The right hand stays on the wheel somewhere comfortable - 12 o' clock for me - whilst you look through the car towards where you are going.

I can reverse very accurately at a decent speed whilst doing this whereas with both hands on the wheel I'm all over the place. It's a good trick when meeting a large wagon on narrow country roads and often results in a big smile and thumbs up from the wagon driver.

My current car has a very high quality reversing camera but the above technique is still more useful than using the camera / mirrors.

Post edited at 15:29
 montyjohn 29 Sep 2022
In reply to subtle:

>> Do you ever drive on single track roads?

> Yes, generally forwards.

Single track roads have bends and you generally can't see around them.

So when you meet on a bend, one of you has to reverse.

Usually the smaller car!

1
 montyjohn 29 Sep 2022
In reply to storm-petrel:

> putting your left arm behind the passenger seat and using it as a lever to look behind?

This is the best way to reverse.

I roughly align the center of the bottom of the rear window a few inches away from the nearside kerb/verge and this will keep you roughly in the middle of your "lane".

1
 LastBoyScout 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

I use any/all of mirrors, dash screen and looking over my shoulder(s), depending on the vehicle and location. My car only has rear parking sensors, my wife's has all-round sensors and birds eye cameras with positional overlay on the screen.

I would go and find an empty car park on a Sunday morning, or whenever suits, and just get her to practice. And take a deckchair for you to sit on while she's doing it

Refresher lessons is a good idea, but good luck getting any at the moment - a driving instructor friend says he is booked solid until about April, due to the Covid backlog. That said, you may find an instructor who specialises in post-test confidence lessons, which my Dad did for a while, who has availability.

Post edited at 15:37
 subtle 29 Sep 2022
In reply to montyjohn:

> >> Do you ever drive on single track roads?

> Single track roads have bends and you generally can't see around them.

> So when you meet on a bend, one of you has to reverse.

> Usually the smaller car!

Are you sure thats how it works - usually the one closest to the passing place reverses, size doesnt matter

4
In reply to Bojo:

Drop your left mirror so you can see the rear wheel and all reversing is easy.  Just turn your head before you move to check nobody is behind the car.  If (like a lorry or bus driver) you're alternating between both side mirrors you'll see someone walk across who wasn't there when you started, unless there's scope for someone to approach directly from the rear in which case an occasional head turn or check of the rear view mirror is sensible.

 jkarran 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

> To what extent should a driver rely on mirrors when reversing?

I presume turning to look is still required during a test?

A stiff neck, dog obstructed rear view and acute laziness mean I'm 99% mirrors and beeper/cameras, certainly for parking and 3pt turns.

jk

In reply to subtle:

> (why else would you want to revers apart from parking) 

J Turns man, you need to perfect your J Turn skills!

(Maybe Mrs Bojo could build up to them?)

 montyjohn 29 Sep 2022
In reply to subtle:

> Are you sure thats how it works - usually the one closest to the passing place reverses, size doesnt matter

This works fine if you both know the road, but if you don't it comes back to the fact that you can't see around the corner so how do you know who is closest? You only know how far your nearest passing place is.

The only way to resolve it then is the obligatory staring match to decide who reverses.

2
In reply to jkarran:

I physically can't turn all the way round.  A neck injury a while back put paid to that.  Using the passenger seat can get me round enough for a glance back, but I couldn't stay like that for any length of time.

I'm very practiced at using side mirrors anyway, I near enough only drove the student union minibuses for a few years after passing my test and so got used to only having side mirrors and a blind spot check sideways.

In reply to Bojo:

I've learnt to use them a lot more than I did because I drive vans a lot more nowadays with little or no vision through the inside.  Find out where the local driving schools take their clients and go do some practising. She'll soon regain confidence.

 subtle 29 Sep 2022
In reply to montyjohn:

> This works fine if you both know the road, but if you don't it comes back to the fact that you can't see around the corner so how do you know who is closest? You only know how far your nearest passing place is.

> The only way to resolve it then is the obligatory staring match to decide who reverses.

Or one phones the AA (whom they belong to) while the other phones the RAC (whom they belong to), wait and let them measure the distance, soon sort out who has to reverse  - Impasse

Post edited at 15:50
1
 storm-petrel 29 Sep 2022
In reply to subtle:

> Are you sure thats how it works - usually the one closest to the passing place reverses, size doesnt matter

On single track roads it's useful to be able to reverse some distance reasonably quickly. The "vehicle" coming the other way could be a timber lorry, animal feeds lorry, milk tanker, land rover with a trailer full of sheep, a tractor and trailer, cows being herded along the road, motorcaravan with a driver who doesn't understand the concept of reversing.

I often find the thing that causes least delay is if I'm the one doing the reversing regardless of other circumstances.

 guffers_hump 29 Sep 2022
In reply to subtle:

if you are on a hill though its the person going up.

 Jenny C 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

Looking over my shoulder I need the car to go left, so I turn the wheel left but the back end goes right. Looking forward and using mirrors is soooo much easier and less confusing.

Cause of many arguments when I was learning (and one lost wing mirror!). Obviously you do need to look behind, but for steering I have to keep my eyes forward.

​​​​

5
 montyjohn 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Jenny C:

> Looking over my shoulder I need the car to go left, so I turn the wheel left but the back end goes right. Looking forward and using mirrors is soooo much easier and less confusing.

You've got me sat in the office pretending to drive trying to get my head around this sentence. People think I'm odd anyway.

I think an easier way of thinking about it is, with your hand at the 12 o'clock position, regardless of whether you're looking forward or backwards, whichever way your hand moves, the car moves.

More office driving to make sure I got that right.

 Mini Mansell 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

i drive a van,
i only have side mirrors to rely on.

 wildebeeste 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

Almost all my driving is in vehicles you can't see out the back of. Focus on the near mirror to follow the edge of the road, occasionally glance at the far one to check nothing is in the way. If i try and split attention evenly I can't keep a straight line.

Use a spotter or get out and look if it's tricky.

Occasionally borrow the wife's car and I'll be driving for half an hour before I remember about the rear view.

 climbingpixie 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Jenny C:

I'm also pretty reliant on my mirrors. I just find it much easier than turning round as it also allows me to keep an eye on where my front end is in relation to obstacles. Might also be because I'm very short and can't easily get my arm around the passenger seat.

I live right at the top end of a dead end street, which rarely has space to turn around, and most journeys begin with me reversing all the way down the road. It's also poorly lit and I find using my mirrors makes it easier to judge proximity to adjacent cars than looking behind me. I do have cameras/beepers on my current car but after 13 years of driving without them I tend to forget they're there!

 Jenny C 29 Sep 2022
In reply to wildebeeste:

I actually find our van (nice big wing mirrors, no rear view) easier to reverse than the car, and like you I often forget about the rear view mirror.

Never had a vehicle with parking sensors, but having seen the way many people leave their cars they clearly don't actually make you any better at parking.

 jimtitt 29 Sep 2022
In reply to jkarran:

> I presume turning to look is still required during a test?

> A stiff neck, dog obstructed rear view and acute laziness mean I'm 99% mirrors and beeper/cameras, certainly for parking and 3pt turns.

> jk

One drove an 18t rigid delivery truck to Dorset farms for some years, looking back isn't an option. We don't talk about grockles with caravans.

 yorkshireman 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

I've become pretty much reliant on reversing cameras and ultrasonic sensors to the point where I'm a liability in an older car. Reversing isn't as bad as actually knowing how far the end of the car sticks out at the front though.

My garage is at the top of a very steep, narrow driveway about 35m long that doglegs at 45deg angles twice in different directions. At the top its possible to turn the car around but its like that scene in Austin Powers where its about a 55-point turn so I've got into the habit of reversing all the way up but there's a knack and since I do it all the time I've got used to it.

 deepsoup 29 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

For starters I'd suggest practicing somewhere she can make mistakes with no consequences.  The far end of a large car park perhaps, maybe borrow a few cones to work around.  (You can knock a cone over without damaging the car.)

In reply to subtle:

You really don't drive down singletrack lanes much do you!

In reply to guffers_hump:

> if you are on a hill though its the person going up.

Yes, this is an important, widely accepted unwritten rule.

In reply to Bojo:

We live in an area with which is just singletrack roads, with poor line of sight. Most of the locals are excellent at reversing but you often meet people who don't have a clue so the default for most of us is to reverse first,  regardless of how far you have to go back - sometimes 2 or 3 hundred yards - as it's quicker than waiting for someone to do it badly. Incidentally, I always turn and look behind me and never use the mirror - I think it's safer and much quicker.

In reply to subtle:

Size does matter. Where I live, the singletrack capital of the world, unless it is a tourist who can't reverse, the vehicle that reverses is the one who finds that easiest, eg. I'd reverse if I met a truck towing a big livestock trailer.

 mrphilipoldham 29 Sep 2022
In reply to blackmountainbiker:

I also live in single track capital of the world and the only thing I’ll reverse further for is a tractor, or anything with a trailer. If it’s a tourist who doesn’t know the road then I’ll politely let them know one way or another that the passing place is closest to them. Best is at night when they don’t even see them, once had to get out and tell a guy who was happy to sit there all night that he needed to reverse 15ft in to a farm entrance, whereas I had a 400ft reverse around corners. He still looked like he thought he was in the right as he stuck his in reverse gear. Tend to be able to time it right 90% of the time as it’s quite hilly so you can see folk coming 3 or 4 bends away, the knowing smile when you do eventually pass is great.

 freeflyer 29 Sep 2022
In reply to mrphilipoldham:

> I’ll politely let them know one way or another that the passing place is closest to them

I have been known to get out of the car and approach smiling gently, then offer to reverse their car for them. Very effective as well as mildly amusing; they either give in and offer to reverse themselves, or break down and confess that they are rubbish at reversing. I have yet to have my offer accepted however.

Post edited at 22:25
2
 morpcat 29 Sep 2022
In reply to freeflyer:

I once turned round my estate in a very narrow single track that had become blocked (it was an alternative route around a road closure that also ended up getting closed). The two drivers behind me asked me to help them do the same as they were too afraid to try it themselves! Both cars were SUVs that were shorter in length than mine and had better driving positions to see how close to the stones walls you were getting, so was happy to oblige.

 montyjohn 30 Sep 2022
In reply to blackmountainbiker:

Unless you live on Anglesey you don't live in the singletrack capital of the world as Anglesey takes that crown with its rats nest of country roads.

 montyjohn 30 Sep 2022
In reply to yorkshireman:

> I've become pretty much reliant on reversing cameras and ultrasonic sensors to the point where I'm a liability in an older car.

I generally find maneuvering in older cars a lot easier.

Rear visibility tends to be better (slabby back windows instead of slopey aerodynamic roofs that reduce window size) and what I'm finding these days is the bonnets have a curve to them. So the "horizon" of the bonnet as you look forward isn't the end of the bonnet, it's somewhere in the middle and this makes the position of your front number plate a complete guess. All cars with silly bonnets should be fitted with parking sensors. Mine unfortunately is not.

 gravy 30 Sep 2022
In reply to morpcat:

Once in a crowded rural market car park I was unparking a large van with no rear view and I had a stand off with a French bloke in a small car. 

Apart from the fact that it was obviously impossible possible to safely reverse the van in the space (which was actually a parking space not a road), the way behind me was blocked by two market stalls and a busy pedestrian thoroughfare and didn't lead actually lead anywhere.

He was ~20m from the carpark exit (which he had just mistaken drove past).  The stand-off continued for over 20 minutes, after a while I got a book out and settled down to read.

Eventually he did reverse and it was quickly apparent why he was reluctant to try because, despite having space for two large vans to pass and turn easily, he managed to side-swipe two cars, remove the wing mirror from a third and nearly run over some pedestrians before he got back to the exit.  He graciously drove off at high speed in his now seriously battered car before anyone could catch him.

I did offer to reverse his car for him and I'll never know if it was a language thing or if I had insulted his manly reversing pride with the offer but it was refused in no uncertain terms.

 wercat 30 Sep 2022
In reply to subtle:

the car going up a steep hill definitely should be given way

 wercat 30 Sep 2022
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Yes, this is an important, widely accepted unwritten rule.

and yet I've heard some pretty silly people theorising that the downhill vehicle must have right of way as "its brakes might fail ....!"

White van man obviously always has Right of way.

 graeme jackson 30 Sep 2022
In reply to subtle:

> Or one phones the AA (whom they belong to) while the other phones the RAC (whom they belong to), wait and let them measure the distance, soon sort out who has to reverse  - Impasse

I remember that film.  A mini and a Rolls Royce as I recall. Can't remember who won though.

Edit . IMPASSE 1963. Bernard Cribbins and Leslie Phillips.  Isn't the internet wonderful. I must have seen it sometime in the early 70's though.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comedy_Playhouse_(series_2)

Post edited at 10:23
 Mike Peacock 30 Sep 2022
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Yes, this is an important, widely accepted unwritten rule.

It's written in the Highway Code, rule 155 about single track roads.

"Give way to vehicles coming uphill whenever you can."

 montyjohn 30 Sep 2022
In reply to wercat:

> the car going up a steep hill definitely should be given way

Often yes, but not always.

All else being equal with no reversing required, then always give way to the vehicle coming up the hill.

But if you are in a situation where one has to reverse, doing a hill start in reverse is pretty hard partly due to gearing and partly due to visibility, so in this situation, the vehicle going uphill should probably reverse, provided they have somewhere sensible and close to reverse to and they are not a lorry.

Then there's the situation where the vehicle going up the hill is passing  parked car on the side of the road. If you need to move out of your lane, then you obviously need to give way to the vehicle coming down the hill.

 jkarran 30 Sep 2022
In reply to guffers_hump:

> if you are on a hill though its the person going up.

Legally yeah but in reality it's usually the most able or least reluctant that reverses. Sometimes it's to do with the road and passing place proximity, sometimes the vehicles but often just confidence and willingness.

jk

 Deri Jones 30 Sep 2022
In reply to blackmountainbiker:

Same here, unless I recognise who's coming the other way, I'll go in to reverse. Top tip for people that don't drive single track roads often - don't drive along 6ft away from the person reversing as they may need to stop and straighten up - give them space. Also, if it is dark, turn your lights off so the person reversing has a chance of seeing using the reversing light. If your lights are on, you're casting a large shadow behind the car reversing and they can see bugger all, especially true for SUV/van drivers. Don't be the arrogant, impatient cock that assumes everyone else will get out of your way - it's amazing how my reversing goes all to pot with someone driving 2ft off my bumper, when they've just passed a space and didn't spot it

 subtle 30 Sep 2022
In reply to graeme jackson:

> I remember that film.  A mini and a Rolls Royce as I recall. Can't remember who won though.

> Edit . IMPASSE 1963. Bernard Cribbins and Leslie Phillips.  Isn't the internet wonderful. I must have seen it sometime in the early 70's though.

I did wonder if anyone would get it through all the hysteria of rubbishing my posts 

1
 henwardian 30 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

Situationally dependent. As I drive a van it's almost always wing mirrors and so see directly behind I need to get out and walk round the van and look. But if it's dark and you are trying to reverse down a dirt road or something ill-defined path then there isn't enough light from garbage reverse lights to see enough using the wing mirror so you have to stick your head out of the window. And if it's a large flat area with nothing to hit except small children then I don't bother looking at all.

 tallsteve 30 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

Always look behind you!

I reversed into a small yellow skip on our drive  Forgot it was there.  It was narrower than the car and not visible in the mirrors, and I have reversed the drive 100 times this way.  CRUNCH!  New rear door required.

Our local Aldi has posts in the parking lot below mirror height.  Many are bent over from collisions.

I will often look around as I get into a car before reversing.  Manchester Airport have painted their multistorey "park and go" in matt black.  Returned on a late flight in the dark and the missus reversed into a matt black column not easily visible in the poor lighting.

Taught a mate to reverse by reversing around the Swansea Uni road network in the holidays, roundabout and all.  Just find somewhere you can reverse around and around.  A shopping center car park on Sunday after 4pm for example.

In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Yes, this is an important, widely accepted unwritten rule.

It's written. The highway code is suprisingly comprehensive.

"Give way to road users coming uphill whenever you can." 

 Flinticus 30 Sep 2022
In reply to subtle:

Watched some of that. 

Not much has changed. Just replace the Rolls with a large black Range Rover and the country lane with a narrow urban road that has a grammar school at one end! 

In reply to Dan Arkle:

> It's written. The highway code is suprisingly comprehensive.

> "Give way to road users coming uphill whenever you can." 

Ah, thanks, I'd forgotten that.

In reply to Dan Arkle:

And in case anyone wonders why, it's because doing shenanigans when going steeply uphill puts much more strain on the clutch. You don't tend to hear about it so much with modern cars but mountain passes burning out clutches used to be a not uncommon occurrence.

In reply to montyjohn:

I'll see your Anglesey singletrack and raise you my Welsh borders! 

 timjones 30 Sep 2022
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

> Yes, this is an important, widely accepted unwritten rule.

I've lived on country lanes for my entire life and I have never encountered this rule.

The person who is most able/competent or has the most convenient passing space generally reverses,  reversing up a hill is no more difficult than reversing downhill for a competent driver.

 timjones 30 Sep 2022
In reply to Mike Peacock:

> It's written in the Highway Code, rule 155 about single track roads.

> "Give way to vehicles coming uphill whenever you can."

The original statement made in this thread was that the person going uphill should be the one that  reverses.

 timjones 30 Sep 2022
In reply to Dan Arkle:

That makes perfect sense if it is possible for one vehicle to tuck in and let the other pass without stopping.

If the road is narrow enough to require both vehicles to come to a halt it is a different matter.

In reply to timjones:

Yes I fully agree with your view.

 montyjohn 30 Sep 2022
In reply to blackmountainbiker:

I'm a little nervous, but I'm not folding.

 Duncan Bourne 30 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

When working I regularly had to reverse a crewcab van and trailer using just side mirrors. Rear view is no good when its view is obscured by a load of brash. The longest distance reversed in this manner was half a mile after discovering that some unmentionable person had locked the gate at the far end of a single track lane.

 Duncan Bourne 30 Sep 2022
In reply to montyjohn:

I dunno I've driven down some roads in Cornwall that are so narrow you can scrape the wing mirrors on both sides of the car simultaniously

 wercat 30 Sep 2022
In reply to timjones:

> I've lived on country lanes for my entire life and I have never encountered this rule.

> The person who is most able/competent or has the most convenient passing space generally reverses,  reversing up a hill is no more difficult than reversing downhill for a competent driver.

try the Bealach na Ba assuming that people going uphill don't have way.  You'll be cursed forever.

Better still, do what I did as a learner, take an old Austin Maxi with a dodgy clutch and practically no handbrake up it in a storm and do your steep hillstarts on hairpin bends with no handbrake

 dovebiker 30 Sep 2022

I’m a part-time postie on the Isle of Mull - all the roads on my run are singletrack, plus I have quite a few narrow gravel tracks to contend with - I get to practise my reversing lots.
RM vans have a steel bulkhead and no rear windows so I’m 100% reliant on my mirrors.

Find the kerb or verge in the mirror and use that as your ‘mark’, keep it steady and the gaps constant. My own car has a reversing camera but I still use my mirrors. It gets easier with practise.

The unofficial rule is that it is the one closest to the passing place that reverses, although a few do and try and bully their way forward. The exception is for large vehicles like trucks and buses. I did reverse about 100m yesterday as there was a Landrover and boat trailer as it was quicker for me as it was straight back than them go back 10m. 

 timjones 30 Sep 2022
In reply to wercat:

> try the Bealach na Ba assuming that people going uphill don't have way.  You'll be cursed forever.

> Better still, do what I did as a learner, take an old Austin Maxi with a dodgy clutch and practically no handbrake up it in a storm and do your steep hillstarts on hairpin bends with no handbrake

It was the person that I was replying to that suggested that the person travelling uphill should give way and reverse.

 timjones 30 Sep 2022
In reply to wercat:

> try the Bealach na Ba assuming that people going uphill don't have way.  You'll be cursed forever.

> Better still, do what I did as a learner, take an old Austin Maxi with a dodgy clutch and practically no handbrake up it in a storm and do your steep hillstarts on hairpin bends with no handbrake

It was the person that I was replying to that suggested that the person travelling uphill should give way and reverse.

Under my suggestion the crappy car with a dodgy clutch and handbrake is quite clearly the less able and I would choose to back up regardless of their direction of travel.  It would however be hard to judge whether it was the car or the driver that lacked the ability to reverse in a competent manner 

 steveriley 30 Sep 2022
In reply to Bojo:

My favourite was the long stretch of walled singletrack towards the end of Kentmere on race day. Couple of confused drivers trying to come one way and a couple of hundred cars the other.

 wercat 01 Oct 2022
In reply to timjones:

I think we're pretty well in agreement there.  I think it is generally more of a problem on narrow English roads as in Scotland the single track roads often have good visibility to allow people other than novices to react in well in advance and pull in - in fact on the Bealach unless you were meeting Mad Alfie in the Howard Doris minibus hurtling down the pass to get us in for 8AM (an unnerving experience, particularly if he was diving from sun into cloud during an inversion) people descending would normally anticipate the need to give way and rarely would have to reverse uphill even though the obligation is there should the need occur.

The dodgiest experience I had was a white van not giving way when we had a full car with children in the back going over the very steep back road from Grasmere to Langdale.


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