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Beginning to Drive Corner & Junctions Emerging at Junctions Manceovring
  Making Things a Little Easier Good Driving Tips



The manceuvres of reversing, turning and parking. Before carrying out a manceuvre in a particular place, there are three questions you must ask yourself:

  • Is this a safe place ?

  • Is this a convenient place ?

  • Shall I be within the law? (The answers to the first two questions will probably help to answer this one too, because traffic law is based on safety and convenience. There may, however, be cases where the law forbids a particular manceuvre for reasons which, although good ones, may not be immediately obvious)

Your knowledge of the Highway Code, signs and other guidance will provide the answers. Then, there is another question, the answer to which will depend very much on your experience and the vehicle you are driving:

  • Can I control my vehicle accurately enough to use this particular place?


Only you can answer this last question. For instance, if you are an experienced driver, it may not worry you to reverse downhill for a reasonable distance. But if you are not so experienced you may feel unsure. The car you are driving and its steering wheel may also influence your answer. But only when you can answer yes to all four questions, you can be sure that the place you have chosen for your  manceuvre is a suitable one.


Reversing :

Many manceuvres need reverse gear at some stage, so let us look first at the process of going backwards. Using reverse gear is obviously difficult for new drivers because of the altered direction of travel and the front wheels becoming the rear ones. When you drive forwards, you can see the car turn with the steering. In reverse, you have to wait for the steering to take effect.


The first secret of manceuvring is to get the vehicle to move slowly enough to have the movements of the steering wheel, the greatest possible effect. The steering wheel should be turned only when the car is in motion, however slow, but not when stationary. If your car has a small turning circle, you will be able to change the angle of the front wheels quickly. The greater the amount of steering lock, the more important it is to move the car slowly. The second secret of manceuvring is to remember, all the time, which way your front wheels are pointing.


Reversing is not easy to master. Practice should begin with driving backwards in a straight line and then go on to turning corners and more complicated manceuvres.


How to sit :

To reverse, you need to turn slightly in the seat depending upon your build and the car you are driving. When reversing straight back or to your left, hold the steering wheel with your right hand near the top (12 o'clock) and your left hand low on the wheel so that the rim may either slide through it or be gripped as necessary. If you find this position difficult because of your physical build or some other factor, hold the wheel with your right hand and sit so that you can steady your left arm on the back of your seat or along the back of the front passenger seat.


How to steer :

One difficulty about steering reverse is to know just when to begin the steer and when to straighten up. The steering wheel should be moved sooner than it is necessary. This, coupled with a slow speed, gives you time for unhurried control and time for checks to front and rear.

What to look for :

Always check for other traffic before you drive backwards. Make quite sure that there is nothing in your way. Check all round - forwards, behind, over both shoulders and in your mirror. If you are in any doubt, get out to make sure. Keep a good lookout while moving backwards and always be ready to stop.


Some more points about reversing :

Besides asking yourself the four questions at the beginning of this chapter, remember also:

  • Not to reverse into a main road from a side road

  • Not to reverse without making sure that it is safe to do so, even if it means getting help.

  • Not to reverse for a longer distance as to inconvenience other road users. So keep your reversing as short as possible.

  • Whenever you reverse you must be ready to stop and give way to other road users.


Turning round :

Every motorist has to turn round in the road at sometime in his driving career. Here are three different ways of doing it.


Using a side road to turn and go back :
  This method is not so suitable for narrow or busy roads.
  • Find a side turning on your nearside into which you can reverse.

  • As you drive past the side turning, look down it and weigh it up. Then stop just past it.

  • Make sure the road is clear behind you, reverse round the corner. Stop close to the kerb, far enough back for you to be  able to position properly for a right turn as you.

  • Drive forward, applying the junction routine before driving out into your original road.


Turning in a road by using forward and reverse gears :
  This is a useful turn in roads where there are no side turnings or opening to reverse into. The drill is illustrated in Fig.
  The various stages of this turn are as follows:
  • Choose a place where there is good visibility and plenty of room.

  • Stop on the left.

  • Make sure that the way is clear in front and behind.

  • Go slowly forward in first gear, turning your steering wheel briskly to the right. Aim at getting your car at a right angle across the road.

  • Change the lock by turning the steering wheel briskly to the left.

  • As your front wheels get near to the kerb, declutch and stop (footbrake). Put on the handbrake because of the camber or slope of the road. Select reverse gear.

  • Make sure again that the way is clear. Back slowly across the road. As you do this, turn the steering wheel farther to the left, if it will go. Then, as the back of your car nears the kerb, turn the steering wheel briskly to the right.

  • Declutch and stop (footbrake). Put on the handbrake. Select first gear.

  • Make sure that the road is clear and drive forward.

  • You should then be able to straighten up on the left of the road.


Finally, be careful if you let your car overhang the kerb, it can be dangerous to pedestrians and there is a risk of hitting trees, lampposts, etc.


Making a U turn :


This means turning your car right round in the width of the road. U turns are prohibited on highways and in one-way streets and on some other roads where there will be a sign to tell you of the prohibition.


If you apply our four test questions, you understand that U turn can't be done often. However, on little used wide roads or quiet roads, if your car is small or has an unusually small turning circle, you can take it. But always remember that this is a manceuvre, which other drivers do not ordinarily expect, so the safe routine of MSM is very important.


Fig. 18: Turning in a road by forward and reverse gears


Parking :

Don't park on a road if there is somewhere else to leave your car. If you must use a road, choose a safe place. Before you leave a car anywhere, ask yourself the first three questions at the beginning of this chapter.


Road signs and markings will give some of the answers. These will tell you the places to avoid and restrictions imposed, if any. The question of safety will be answered by knowledge of the Highway Code, which gives a list of places where you should not park, and by your own observation and common sense.


Car Parks :

In a properly arranged car park, there are markings to show you where to put your car. There are also arrows and signs to show the lanes you should take inside the car park. Always try to 'park pretty'; that is, squared up in the middle of the marked space. Do not forget to open up the parking lights, if the surroundings are dark.


Unless you find a space at the end of a row, you will have to fit your car into a gap between two other vehicles. If the cars on either side are well parked, you just have to centre your car between the lines. But if they are not carefully parked, make a check on the gap left. You obviously need space for the doors of your car and equally the adjacent cars to open.



Sometimes the approach to a space in a car park does not give you enough room to 'square up' to it. Trying to get your car into a space in one go may involve very complicated movements of the steering wheel. In the fig, while 'A' does a lot of steering at close quarters, 'B' gets neatly into the place. But 'C' gets just as neatly into place, more simply, and is ready to move out forwards. Except where cars are badly parked, leaving an odd-shaped gap to get into, it is nearly always best to reverse into a parking space, as C did. This gives you a better view when you drive out.

To sum up: before entering a car park, use the mirror and signal, if necessary. Assess the park; notice its layout and markings and choose a space. Use the mirror again, because car move quietly in the parking places.


Fig. 19 : Using a Car Park


Parking on the road :

First, two general points: If there is a kerb, try not to touch it when you park. Scraping the sides of your tyres will weaken them, with possibly disastrous results later. Secondly, don't leave your car so close to another that it will be difficult for you or other to get out again.


If there is plenty of room between parked vehicles, you can draw into the side of the road and stop parallel close to the kerb. But where the space between cars is not big enough for this, you will have to back in. You need a gap at least one and a half times the length of your car.


The most important step in this manceuvre is to go far enough forward before you stop. Drive past the gap and stop about half a length past the vehicle behind which you are going to park, parallel to it and about three feet away. When you have made sure it is safe to reverse, you can then back into the gap.


We have dealt with parking in some detail because it calls for care and skill acquired by practice. If parking worries you, then practice it until you are really skilled.


Summary :
  • The questions to ask yourself before making any manceuvre: 'Is it safe, convenient and lawful?' And 'Can I control my vehicle accurately enough?'

  • Reversing: the advantage of doing it slowly; the proper way to sit and steer; making the right safety checks.

  • Reversing to the left: where and when to look.

  • Other points about reversing: don't back into a main road or for long distances; always be ready to stop.

  • Turning in the road: reversing into a side road; turning with forward and reverse gears; making a U turn (and where not to)

  • Parking: off the road if possible. Car parks: keeping to the markings; going in backwards; parking on the road; reversing into a gap.