Most modern streets have wide ‘bell mouth’ junctions which create a gentle curve. Older streets however may have much sharper, almost right-angled corners. Reversing around a sharp corner requires a different technique.
Find a sharp corner in a side street, and stop before the opening of the road. When you go forward into the reversing position, you need to be careful to get this right. There is little room for error with a sharp corner; if you get too close your tyres are sure to make contact with the kerb or you will swing wide as you try to avoid mounting it.
When you start to reverse and reach the turning point, the kerb will appear to be in a different position than that which was used for the sweeping reverse. At the point of turn, rather than steering to keep the kerb in view, it will be necessary for you to steer quickly towards the kerb. You will probably need the wheel on full lock (it won’t turn any further). In effect, you need to imagine the rear left-hand wheel as a hinge. Your car should be pivoted on this hinge when the rear wheel is in line with the apex of the corner (see diagram).
Practising the Sharp Reverse
Once you begin to reverse, you need to stop when the rear wheel has become level with the corner of the kerb. Your accompanying driver may help you judge this if you are not sure. You should note the position of the kerb. Rather than being seen in the back window it will appear in one of the side windows, or may perhaps be hidden behind one of the door pillars. This is the turning point for a sharp corner.
When you actually begin to turn the corner, it may appear as if the car is going to run over the kerb. This would only happen if you turn too early or start too close to the kerb to begin with.
Reversing around a sharp corner can be hazardous. Your observations must be carried out in similar fashion to the sweeping reverse; but with particular care at the point just before turning. At the point of turn the front of your car will swing out very quickly. You must, therefore, be sure that nothing is closely approaching from any direction.
As you now go through the reverse, ensure that you keep to a low speed. With a sharp corner there is only one chance; unlike a sweeping reverse you cannot continue making corrections all the way through. If you are too late, or too early in steering, you will need to stop and return to the start.
When your car enters the side road, you need to straighten your wheels earlier than with a gentle corner. You have a lot of steering to do, so before your car appears to be coming parallel with the kerb, begin to straighten up. You might need to turn the wheel fairly quickly.
This article is an excerpt from ‘Learning to Drive – The Learner Driver’s Manual’.