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DMV Test: How to Back Up Your Car

Young Woman - Copyright: Vitaly Valua

Know How to Back Your Car

For your road skills test and future driving, it is important that you know how to back up your car or drive it in reverse.

Questions about backing up a car can also show up on your written DMV test.

If you still have your written knowledge exam ahead you, there are some important points you should remember for the written test. Then, when you have your learner’s permit, make sure that you go through them again and practice driving in reverse until you feel comfortable with it.

If Your Car has a Backup Camera

Backup camera

Does your car have a backup camera or rear-view camera?

Backup cameras improve your ability to see behind your car and help to eliminate the rear blind spot. Most backup systems also have a warning signal that activates when you get too close to an object behind you (or to the side).

When you put your car into reverse, a camera mounted at the rear of the car activates and sends an image to a monitor to show what is behind you.

With a backup camera in your car, you may think that you don’t need to learn some of the advice found in your driver’s manual but remember that all cars don’t have cameras yet. Even if your car has, you might be asked to drive a car without a camera one day – that is why you should learn how to back up both with a camera and without it.

Can I Use the Camera during the Road Test?

Yes, some states allow you to use the camera when you back your vehicle – but some don’t. Check with your examiner before the test.

Regardless of which, you should always know how to back a vehicle without the use of cameras.

Before You Start Backing Up

  Backing is more dangerous.

The first thing to remember is that backing and driving in reverse is much more dangerous than driving forward. This is because you cannot see as well when you drive in reverse. This is true even if you have rear-view camera.

Your vehicle is also harder to control when you drive in reverse.

Therefore, you should do as little backing as possible in your everyday driving.

  Check behind your vehicle.

Before you get behind the wheel and start driving, you should walk behind your vehicle< and make sure the area behind your vehicle is clear. Be extra careful if children are playing nearby. If they are behind your vehicle, you may not see them from your driver seat.

  Adjust your mirrors.

Then, before starting the engine, make sure you have adjusted your side and rear-view mirrors.

This is something you should always do before you drive off. Not only when you must drive in reverse.

It is important to remember that even if your mirrors are well-adjusted, you should not rely solely on mirrors when backing up.

Start the Engine and Follow These Three Steps

  1. When you have started the engine, keep your foot on the brake.
  2. Place your left hand at the 12 o’clock position on the steering wheel. Driving in reverse is the only driving situation when you should grip the wheel with only one hand.
  3. Put your right arm across your seat and look over your right shoulder through your rear window.

You should learn these three steps, even if you have a backup camera.

These steps are also something that the examiner will look at when you do your road test – unless rules in your state allow a camera.

Start Backing Up

Start backing by letting up the brake pedal.

A common mistake by new drivers is to move the foot to the gas pedal and increase speed. You shouldn’t. Until you are an experienced driver, you should keep your foot where it is and just let up on the brake.

As a new driver, you do this for two reasons:

 First, your speed should never be more than a slow crawl because you want to keep full control of where you are going.

 Secondly, if you need to stop, you want to be able to stop as quickly as possible.

If you, as an example, are backing into a traffic lane and another vehicle is approaching from behind, you must stop so you don’t interfere with traffic.

If you have your foot on the accelerator in this situation, you could accidentally increase speed instead of braking.

Never feel the urge suddenly increase speed when you are backing up. Remember, your car is much harder to control when you back up.

Know Which Way to Steer

During your road test, you will most likely be asked to back up around a corner. This is often part of the road skills test since new drivers sometimes have trouble remembering which way to steer when they are not looking forward.

Theory is simple, you turn the wheel in the direction you want the rear of the vehicle to go. When you want the rear of the car to turn right, you turn the wheel to the right. When you want the rear of the car to turn left, you turn the wheel to the left.

When you got your learner’s permit you should practice this several times until it feels natural.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

When you back up around a corner, the front of your vehicle will stick out the other way. Don’t forget to take your eyes from the rear for a moment. Press the brake pedal lightly, if needed, and check around you. You must make sure you don’t interfere with other vehicles or pedestrians.

If the way is clear, continue backing up.

Don’t back up for more than a few seconds and don’t forget to look in all directions.

Here is a Quick Summary

 Check around your vehicle before getting behind the wheel.
 Look through the rear window, if possible.
 Back up slowly, cover the brake pedal.
 Be aware of surroundings.

Quiz Time

Check Your Knowledge with These DMV Questions



Well done!

You really need to learn this!

#1. Which is generally a good idea when it comes to backing or driving in reverse?

Try to do as little backing as possible. As a driver it is difficult to get a clear view of all areas behind your vehicle. If you must drive in reverse, go slowly, look behind you, and don’t rely on your mirrors.

#2. When backing up or reversing your car, you should:

Without a backup camera, you should place your right arm on the back of the seat and turn around so that you can look directly through the rear window. Do not depend on your rear-view or side mirrors since you cannot see directly behind your vehicle. Back slowly, your vehicle is much harder to steer while you are backing.

#3. When children are nearby, what should you do before backing out of a driveway or parking lot?

#4. Backing a vehicle on a freeway:

Never back a vehicle on a freeway, interstate, or in any travel lane. It is illegal and unsafe. If you miss a turn or exit, do not back up, instead proceed to an area where you can safely turn around and go back.

#5. Which is most important when you back out of a parking space?

Back slowly to avoid collisions. Do not depend only on your mirrors or only looking out a side window. Use one-hand steering for backing maneuvers that do not require full left or right turns.

#6. What should your speed be when you are driving in reverse?

Remember, your vehicle is harder to control when you are driving in reverse. You should back slowly. In most cases, you speed should be no more than a crawl.

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