Look in the direction you are travelling….

Seems like a simple piece of advice and almost unnecessary to write a blog about!  We assume most people do this in every aspect of life, walking, running, bike riding and driving.  Yet, as a driving instructor on the Gold Coast for 9 years I see the patterns in peoples learning and driving behaviours.

One of the most common phenomena is that whenever I teach someone to reverse (starting in a straight line) the tendency is to look through the front windscreen whilst the car begins moving backwards! 

We are so mentally attached to the front of the vehicle this requires pointing out.  Most people at all stages of learning to drive get their ‘lefts’ and ‘rights’ mixed up when reversing, this is what I explain to them to resolve the difficulty…

We spend the majority of our lives driving “forwards”, so we get very attached to where we are directing the front of the vehicle (rightly so!), by the time we teach someone to reverse, they are subconsciously always considering the impact and direction to the front of the vehicle, even though the act of shifting into reverse causes the back wheels to be in control. 

So it is the simple, yet conscientious choice to shift your thinking and awareness to the back of the vehicle that makes reversing direction easier!  As you move backwards left is still left and right is still right, it’s just that you are making the back of the vehicle lead the direction.  Of course the front of the vehicle will respond with the opposite direction, but this should never be the focus, this is what caused the confusion in the first place!

In understanding this concept early in your learning journey, you will then find reversing out of driveways, car parks and reverse parking a much more simple exercise down the track!

As with all learning and good habit building repetition is the key, I recommend for homework you practice reversing along a straight quiet street back and forth with your Supervisor helping to observe and scan with you, so that you can reinforce that “moving towards the kerb you steer to the left” and “moving away from the kerb you steer right”, after a little practice it’s a simple yet valuable lesson and habit you’ll never forget.