Are you finding reversing a car very difficult? I mean annoyingly, frustratingly difficult? Try not to be too disheartened because believe me you are not alone. In my experience, the majority of learner drivers struggle with reversing at first. The main reason, I think, is that although they have reverse gear engaged, their mind is still in forward gear! Let me explain what I mean by that.
Because it feels normal and reassuring to steer the front of the car, a lot of beginners are still trying to do that whilst going backwards! Not surprising then that they have such problems! Can you imagine driving forwards whilst looking out of the rear windscreen? Impossible, right? Even the most experienced driver would struggle to do that.
So, you have to put your mind into reverse mode as well as the car. In other words, accept that the back of your vehicle becomes in effect the front when you are reversing. That does not mean that you are not aware of things happening in front of you, but you must steer the rear of the car, which is now leading the way.
The other important thing to mention is speed, or rather lack of it. Most beginners, without really wanting to, attempt going backwards around a corner faster than they would forwards! Remember that when reversing, there is a delay in the turning of the steering wheel altering the direction of the rear of the car, because it is only the front wheels that are turning. You have to adjust to that time lag and if you are going too fast, you will not be able to judge it correctly, and will probably turn too early or too much.
Another common mistake made by learner drivers is to look too close behind the car or even at the car itself as they are reversing. Try to look up at the horizon much as you do(I hope) when you are driving forwards. Sometimes I ask a person I suspect of making this error if they know how to play pool or snooker. Most people have at least had a go. So then I ask them if they look at the cue ball or the object ball when making a shot. They usually reply “The object ball, of course!” So, do you get the point I am making here? Your car is the cue ball and the horizon, or at least some distance behind you, where you intend your car to go, is the object ball.
So, to sum up, it is vital that you think about the following points when learning to reverse a car:-
1. Keep control of the speed, using clutch control in a manual car, or the foot brake in an automatic vehicle so that you can accurately steer and allow for the time lag between you turning the steering wheel and the back of the car changing direction.
2. Always steer the rear of the car however tempting it may be to look around at the front to steer.
3. Remember to look a long way behind you and not at where your rear wheels are!
If you keep in mind these important points and keep on practising I hope and believe that you will soon start to see improvements in your reversing abilities.Once you get comfortable reversing and steering the rear, then you will find that you can start to go a little bit faster and even look around at the front of your vehicle.The difference is that you will not be looking in front to steer but only to check that your car is not causing problems for any other road user as you start to turn.