4- Backing Up

Goal: Teach your teen how to safely drive backwards in a straight line and while turning.

Location: A large, level, mostly empty area.

Lesson one – before moving the vehicle

  • Coach your teen tto first search around the vehicle before entering to identify potential hazards that may not be visible once they are in their seat. Then teach your teen that they must always turn around and look backwards through the rear window when backing up. They should also use their mirrors and back-up camera.
  • Have your teen shift their hips and turn around until they get a good view behind the vehicle. When backing up to the right, they should drape their right arm over the back of the seat and grasp the top of the steering wheel with their left hand. When backing up to the left they should look over their left shoulder. When backing up to the left they should look over their left shoulder.
  • Review how to use the backup camera with your teen, including what the different lines mean. Always remember that a camera cannot be a substitute for your eyes – it is meant as an additional tool to use when backing up.

Lesson two – backing up in a straight line

  • Check all areas behind the vehicle prior to and while backing up.
  • Grasp the steering wheel with the left hand and look over the right shoulder through the rear window.
  • First release the brake, then use the accelerator gently, and only when necessary, to control speed. Keep it slow.

Lesson three – backing up in a turn

  • If turning to the left, grasp the steering wheel with the right hand, or with the left hand if turning to the right. Remind your teen to turn the wheel in the direction they want the car to travel.
  • Look in the direction the car is moving through the rear side windows.
  • Back into the turn slowly, first releasing the brake, then using the accelerator if needed.

Lesson four – aligning rear bumper to a curb

The driver’s view out of the back passenger window. Reference points will be different for everyone, depending on the vehicle and the height of the driver.

  • Choose a curb (or line) for a target.
  • Have your teen back up toward the target, coaching them to stop when the curb appears near the middle of the rear right window when looking over their right shoulder.
  • Have your teen put the car in park and set the emergency brake.
  • Have your teen get out of the car to see whether the rear bumper is close to the target.
  • If adjustments are needed, have your teen try again, establishing a new reference point. Repeat as often as needed until your teen can consistently come within close proximity to the target.

Slow and consistent

Emphasize that it is important to back up slowly and be prepared to stop. It is harder to maintain control of the car when it’s in reverse.