Manoeuvre Guide: Reversing Around A Corner

Since December 2017, the reversing around a corner manoeuvre is no longer a part of the practical test. Instead, learners are to be tested on pulling up on the right, bay parking or parallel parking. Now, it would be all too easy to forget about reversing around a corner entirely. However, whilst you won't need to know it for your practical, it's still something that will come in handy in real-life driving. So, if you need to brush up on the reversing around a corner manoeuvre, you've come to the right place!

In this guide, we're going to break down the reversing around a corner manoeuvre: how to perform it, what an examiner would be looking for (if it were still on the test) and when it might be used in real-life conditions.

young driver holding the steering wheel


What is reversing around a corner?

As the name suggests, this manoeuvre involves you driving your vehicle in reverse around a corner. When this featured in the practical test, it had three main parts: stopping before the junction you intend to reverse into, driving past the junction and then reversing into the junction (once you've found your point of turn). The instructions would be along these lines:

“I'd like you to reverse into the next road on the left. First drive past it and stop, then reverse for some distance up the new road. You need to keep a position which is parallel and reasonably close to the kerb.”

Prior to the driving test changes in 2017, reversing around a corner was one of four key manoeuvres that candidates might be expected to demonstrate during the practical test. The other three manoeuvres were:

  • Bay parking (forward or reverse)
  • Parallel parking
  • Turn in the road

Along with the turn in the road manoeuvre, reversing around a corner was scrapped in favour of pulling up on the right. This does not mean that you shouldn't bother learning either manoeuvre, though. The DVSA has emphasised the importance of instructors continuing to teach all of these manoeuvres in their driving lessons.

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What is the examiner looking for?

Examiner stood outside car marking driving test on a clipboard

As we've said, you won't actually have to worry about the reversing around a corner manoeuvre showing up on your driving test. Even so, you should at least know how to perform it to a high standard. With that in mind, we're going to look at what an examiner would be looking for if you were to carry out this manoeuvre.

For starters, the examiner would be keeping a careful eye out to make sure you're aware of your surroundings throughout the entire manoeuvre. Just think: reversing safely relies on you making constant observations to ensure you're not endangering yourself and/or other road users. Timing is absolutely vital here—signalling too early or late can be a major source of confusion!

Throughout the manoeuvre, the examiner would be expecting you to demonstrate:

  • Careful use of MSM: it's vital that you keep road users aware of your intentions when pulling up on the left, reversing around the corner and driving onward.
  • Control: you need to keep your vehicle parallel and close to the kerb without hitting it—the corner can be particularly challenging.
  • Good judgement: if the road you intend to reverse into is obstructed or you're facing oncoming traffic, you need to show good judgement—stopping and restarting if necessary.

Please note:

The Highway Code has very specific rules as to when and where you can reverse:

  • Try not to reverse or turn around in a busy road; find a quiet side road or drive around a block of side streets.
  • Do not reverse from a side road into a main road.

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Step-by-step: How do I reverse around a corner?

It's important to bear in mind that we're looking at how you'd be expected to undertake the manoeuvre in a test environment. In real-life, you might not need to complete the manoeuvre in so many steps.

1. Park on the left-hand side

This particular step isn't something you would need to do in real-life—it's something you would only do during a test (which isn't relevant with this manoeuvre) or during your driving lessons. In this scenario, the examiner (or your instructor) would ask you to park on the left-hand side so that you can prepare yourself for the reversing around a corner manoeuvre.

parking on the left-hand side
  • During the test or lesson, you would be asked to park up on the left-hand side of the road, not far from the junction you're intending to reverse into.

  • Before you pull over, you need to check your main mirror and left-hand mirror. Once you've done so, signal left and stop the car—applying the handbrake and selecting neutral. Don't forget to cancel your indicator.

  • Once you're ready to move off, change to first gear, check your main mirror, right-hand mirror and right-hand blindspot. If it's clear, move off.

  • As you're driving, you should glance quickly at the junction you intend to reverse into and make sure it's not obstructed in any way.

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2. Drive past the corner

Once you're sure the junction you're intending to reverse onto is clear, you need to drive past it and stop. Make use of the MSM routine to ensure it's safe.

drive past corner
  • Again, before you stop on the left, you need to check your main mirror and left-hand mirror. Timing is key here—you should only signal left once you're mostly past the junction. If you do it too early, other road users will assume you're turning into the road.

  • Try to get your car a bit further from the kerb than you'd normally park. If you're too close, it will increase your chances of hitting the kerb when you reverse around the corner. You must also get the car as parallel to the kerb as possible and your steering wheel straight.

  • Once you've stopped the car, cancel your indicator, apply your handbrake and then change to reverse. Other road users will now know what your intention is (courtesy of the reverse lights).

  • Double-check to make sure you're parallel and not too close to the kerb. This will be vital in ensuring you complete the manoeuvre well.

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3. Start moving back to your point of turn

It's now time to begin the reversing part of the manoeuvre and finding your point of turn. Observation is absolutely vital here, as reversing requires the utmost control and attention.

move to your point of turn
  • Complete all-around checks before you even begin moving—check for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. If any are approaching you, stop what you're doing and wait until they pass. If you do stop, be sure to complete your checks again—things change in an instant on the road.

  • Now it's safe to move, you can begin reversing. Keep your gaze on the rear window—it's in the direction you're travelling in after all! Glance towards your other windows briefly to ensure nothing else has changed.

  • You need to keep your distance to the kerb, so check your left-hand mirror as you're moving. You'll find the manoeuvre much easier if you keep to a slow speed—clutch control is key here.

  • Eventually, you should reach your point of turn—the point at which the corner of the kerb is in your left-hand mirror—at which time you should stop the car.

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4. Reverse slowly around the corner and stop

Now you're finally ready to reverse around the corner. It's important that you keep up with the observations—if you're facing oncoming traffic coming out of the junction, you should wait until it's clear.

reverse around the corner and stop
  • As you're moving, start to steer towards the left. As you do, the front of your car will swing out into the road—it's important, then, that you do all around checks. Check your main and side mirrors and your right-hand blindspot.

  • Keeping an eye on the rear window, it's now time to turn the wheel. How much you turn will depend on the car and how sharp the corner is—a full turn to the left should be good to start with.

  • Reversing around the corner is the most challenging part, which is why a slow and steady pace is key. Keep a close eye on the kerb in your left-hand mirror. If you can't see it, you're too far away, and you'll need to steer left to get closer. Don't forget to continue making your all-around checks as you do.

  • Once you've made it around the corner, you now need to get your car parallel to the kerb. Be sure to straighten your wheel as you do this. Then, you can either stop (don't forget to apply the handbrake and selecting neutral when you do this!) or move to first gear and start driving.

And there you have it! Though you might not need to use as many steps in real-life driving, it can make it easier to break it down into smaller sections.

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When would this be used in real life?

close up of hands on steering wheel

For starters, reversing around a corner is one of the many ways in which you can turn your car around (as long as it's safe and legal to do so). Whilst a turn in the road manoeuvre is a very popular approach, it can't be used if the road you're on is too narrow. In such situations, reversing around a corner is ideal.

Imagine, for example, that you're driving down the road only to realise that you're going the wrong way—or that the road is obstructed. Instead of continuing, you can safely perform the reverse around a corner manoeuvre—reversing into a junction and then driving back the way you came. It's simple!

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1. Is it legal to reverse around a corner?

Yes, within reason. You need to be sure that you're not obstructing traffic—if you see oncoming traffic, you should stop and restart the manoeuvre (moving out of the way of traffic). Additionally, the Highway Code stipulates that you cannot reverse from a side road into a main road—so don't even try it!

2. Will this manoeuvre show up on my test?

Nope. Due to the changes made to the structure of the driving test in December 2017, the reverse around a corner manoeuvre is no longer a part of the practical test.

3. Which manoeuvres will feature on my driving test?

During your driving test, the examiner will ask you to demonstrate one of the three following manoeuvres:

  • Pulling up on the right, reversing two car lengths and rejoining the traffic
  • Bay parking—either driving into a parking space and reversing out, or reversing into a parking space and driving out
  • Parallel parking at the side of the road

4. Do I really need to know how to reverse around a corner, then?

It doesn't matter that the reversing around a corner manoeuvre is no longer a part of the driving test—your instructor should still be teaching you how to perform it safely. You never know when it might come in handy, so it's definitely worth having the experience under your belt.

5. What distance should I be from the kerb during this manoeuvre?

When you park on the left-hand side, you're usually very close to the kerb—ensuring you're not obstructing any vehicles passing your car. When you're reversing around a corner, however, you need a bit more space from the kerb. After all, if you're too close, you'll hit it. We'd advise you keep a foot between your car and the kerb.

6. Should I keep going even if there's oncoming traffic?

If you're reversing onto the side road, only to find that there's a stream of oncoming traffic, you should abort the manoeuvre and drive back to the spot at which you were parked—making all around checks as you do. You should give way to these road users until it's clear and safe to carry on. Remember, you need to check your mirrors and blind spots again—you never know how much the situation might have changed since the last time you checked.

7. What should I do if I think I'm going to hit the kerb?

You need to stop, move forward and adjust. If you're keeping your movements slow and steady—and checking your left-hand mirror consistently—you should be able to realise if you're too close or too far within enough time to allow you to readjust without having to stop and drive forward.

8. What if there's a lot of oncoming traffic for a long period of time?

Obviously, there's no real way of predicting how real-life driving will turn out sometimes. You should try and wait until it's safe and clear to move—you don't want to endanger yourself and other road users just because you're in a rush. If there's simply too much traffic, you might want to consider reversing into another, quieter junction.

9.What if I can't tell whether it's clear or not?

You should not, under any circumstances, try and reverse when you're not sure if it's clear or not—it's one of the golden rules of reversing. For all you know, there could be dozens of road users behind you! If you can't use your mirrors, make use of a passenger or, if really necessary, get out and check. You should only do so if your car is positioned safely and you're not getting in the way of other road users.

10. What if another car comes up behind me?

If a vehicle comes up behind you whilst you're reversing into the side road, you need to stop. If the vehicle keeps on moving, you should wait until they've passed you before continuing with your manoeuvre. If the vehicle stops, then you should drive back towards your start position—parked on the left-hand side—before starting the manoeuvre again once it's clear.

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