Driving tests

6: Reversing in a straight line

The aim of this lesson is to be able to legally and safely reverse the car in a straight line for at least 20m. Drive to a place in a 50kph zone with a straight, flat, uninterrupted stretch of road with light traffic flow, for example a residential cul-de-sac (dead end road).

Driver actions

  • Choose a safe place to carry out the manoeuvre, check all the mirrors, indicate left for at least three seconds, move to the left and stop the car next to the kerb
  • Keep the brake pedal depressed while you put the handbrake/park brake on
  • Keep the brake pedal depressed while you choose reverse gear
  • Check mirrors and blind spots for hazards
  • Look over your left shoulder through the rear window in the direction you will drive in. If you have restricted mobility you can take your left hand off the wheel and put it behind the passenger seat for extra leverage
  • If your car has restricted rear visibility, then you may need to use the mirrors to reverse; if there is a reversing camera, do not rely on this or use it as your sole means of reversing because images will be distorted and this is primarily for low-speed, close-quarter manoeuvres to ensure you don’t hit anything while backing into a parking space, for example. Looking through the rear window gives you the best visibility and judgement for maintaining a straight line, but many new cars have thick rear pillars which can restrict your view.
  • Slowly release the handbrake or park brake. If your vehicle has a hydraulic handbrake, it will release quickly. If your car has hill hold technology, then when you release the brake the car will not roll on a gradient. Note that most vehicles only use hill hold when going forwards so don’t expect it to work when you are in reverse unless you have tested it.
  • Press down on the accelerator gradually with the right foot and slowly release the clutch pedal  (in a manual car)
  • Slowly reverse in a straight line for 20 metres, continuing to look through the rear window, or in each wing mirror if you don’t have a rear window.
  • Smoothly bring the car to a stop
  • Put the car in neutral (manual) or park (automatic), put the handbrake or park brake on and switch off the engine.

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