Reversing Safely

Almost 60% of commercial vehicle accident damage occurs when a reversing manoeuvre is undertaken…

And we’re not just talking about damage to vehicles and property, people can be injured too. In fact, nearly 25% of all deaths involving vehicles at work occur during reversing. But, with a little bit of extra care, we can all do something to reduce these frightening figures.


Before you start reversing

  • Is your route free from obstructions? If it is blocked, can you access by another route?
  • Are other workers and/or pedestrians clear of where you need to be?
  • Complete a ground level and overhead check for any obstructions. Ask yourself “Will my vehicle fit in here?”
  • If you cannot see behind, get down from your cab and check before reversing
  • Alert other workers and/or pedestrians and put on your hazard warning lights, or sound your horn


When you are reversing

  • Use the help of a trained signaller (a ‘dogman’), whose job it is to keep the reversing area free of pedestrians, and to guide drivers. If you need help, it’s always better to ask than risk having an accident
  • When using a dogman, make sure you understand their signals before starting the reversing manoeuvre. If you lose sight of him/her, stop immediately
  • It’s much easier to reverse into a gap than out of it into flowing traffic. When delivering, complete your reversing manoeuvre as soon as you arrive at your destination
  • If there are guidelines on the floor, use them to position your vehicle accurately
  • Reverse slowly and with caution, minimising the distance. Be prepared to stop instantly
  • If the view in your mirrors becomes obstructed, or you’re unsure of distances, stop, get out of your vehicle and check access before continuing the manoeuvre

Where do reversing accidents happen?

It is important that all drivers exercise greater can when reversing, especially when visiting customer sites and homes. The most places where reversing collisions occur is primarily during collection and delivery (52%), secondly on site (29%), on route (15%) and at the company depot (4%).

Site Safety

In organisations where Health & Safety at work is a priority, you’re likely to find some of the following safety provisions in place to help you reverse safely, but you still need to remain alert.

  • One-way systems that remove the need for reversing
  • Specific routes to minimise the need for reversing where it is unavoidable
  • Fixed mirrors installed to increase visibility, and stops such as barriers or buffers at loading bays
  • Barriers or wheel stops used where vehicles reverse up to structures or edges


Vehicle Safety Devices

  • External side-mounted & rear-view mirrors
  • Refractive lenses fitted to rear-view mirrors or CCTV systems to help drivers see behind the vehicle
  • Reversing alarms fitted – either audible alarms or flashing lights
  • ‘Sensing’ or ‘trip’ systems to warn the driver or stop   the vehicle when an obstruction is detected close to, or comes into contact with, the vehicle



This information is prepared as a guide only and should not be taken as an authoritative document. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information, Driver Hire Australia Pty Ltd and its associated companies accept no liability for any errors or omissions.

Statistics and pie chart data sourced in the UK from