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Pull up on the right


At the recent MSAGB National Conference and Training Day the question was raised – again – about the legality, validity and safety of the new exercise being tried out as part of the current driving test trial.


The member I spoke to thought the exercise was probably illegal it is not. At a meeting of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), now the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), Driver Training Strategic Meeting in November 2014 this matter was discussed it was explained that part of the driving test trial would be asking drivers to stop on the right side of road then reverse for a couple of car lengths before re-joining the flow of traffic. The group was asked for its views as to whether this manoeuvre would be illegal. It was concluded that “The only legality would be around night-time and lights.” At night when pulling up on the right it is best practice to turn off the headlights leaving only side lights.


ministry-of-transportThe member also questioned the validity of this exercise and the dangers of doing this at night. I suggested that as they were teaching all aspects of the exercise already I did not understand why they felt there was a problem. They denied this and said they would never teach anything like this at it is to dangerous and they would definitely never do it in the dark. They seemed offended when I respectfully suggested that they might not be doing their job properly.

My justification for saying this, is the right hand reverse. Whilst I’m not sure when the first official syllabus was published the Driving Manual published in 1969 and priced 12s 6d (62.5p) contained the advice below and the accompanying diagram.

Reversing into a side road on the right

This is a useful manoeuvre when there isn’t a convenient turning on the left, or you can’t see very well through the rear window. Fig. 46 shows that it is, in fact, two manoeuvres. The first is to cross to the other side of the road (after passing the junction). As with any other change of

Fig. 46
Fig. 46

direction, this needs full use of your mirror and proper judgment of position and speed. You should also take the opportunity to weigh up the side road as you pass it.

Reversing to the right

  1. Do not drive across the road until this point is reached-and then only after full and proper observation.
  2. Stop here, then reverse. Use a little left lock, then full right lock.
  3. By about this point, the front wheels should have been straightened.
  4. Back well down the road, so that the normal position on the left can be reached well away from the corner.

It seems all these skills were thought necessary over forty five years ago. The current Car and light van driving syllabus (category B) also clearly states, under learning outcome 3 that a driver needs to be able to “reverse to right” and needs to know and understand “how to reverse safely into a side road on the right.”

The trial manoeuvre Pull up on the right, reverse for a couple of car lengths and drive off when safe includes a similar, some might say identical, skills set to Reversing into a side road on the right. I think that proves the validity of the exercise on trial.


TrialThe member I spoke to also mentioned the danger of doing this excersise at night the National standard for driving cars and light vans (category B) scoping statement at the start of the document states that: “The content of this standard applies to driving: at any time.” That clearly includes night or day. So clearly it is the job of driver trainers to ensure that new and experienced drivers can do right hand reverses safely even in the dark and therefore it follows that, in my opinion, they should be able to help learners to achieve the same skill level when they are asked to pull up on the right, reverse for a couple of car lengths and then drive off when it is safe to do so.

Footnote: Having re-read this blog I realise that I sound like a bit of an evangelist for the driving test trial. I suppose I am, I think getting new drivers to learn things that are going to be really useful when they have qualified, like reversing out of a parking space after they have loaded the shopping, following directions to an event on a sat nav and being able to pull up safely on the wrong side of the road to pick up a mate are really important. Of course if members of MSAGB take a different view when it comes to the formal consultation I will represent that view – I hope they don’t.


  1. John Lomas John Lomas

    I have taught parking on the right over the last 40yrs, however there is one piece of advice about this which I have not seen mentioned lately.
    I always questioned pupils about what they would do if parking on the right during daylight but are not expecting to be back at their car before lighting up time. Invariably I had to remind them of the need to be in a recognised parking space. HC Rule 248; CUR reg 101: RVLR reg 24.

  2. Hello John,
    May I ask you to look at page 103 of the latest HWC – the rules have been the same for half a century – The right direction indicator signals that “I intend to move out to the right or turn right” Below this rule it says, in bold, “These signals should not be used except for the purpose described”. Unlike the left signal, the right signal does not mean “I intend to stop”. To change this rule, the Sec. for State must put proposals before both Houses of Parliament and then publish a new HWC. RTA ’88 section 38. By stating in letters, videos, leaflets and press releases that a right signal is the correct signal for stopping on the right, the DVSA have summarily overruled the HWC. At present, the Parliamentary Ombudsman is investigating my complaint that DVSA are attempting to shortcut Parliament without the authority or competence to do so.
    I would be interested to hear you opinion.
    Kind regards,
    Ron Douglas

    • Hi Ron
      Thanks for taking the time to comment on this blog post. I am afraid I don’t agree with your comment. Whilst I fully accept that your interpretation of the Highway Code may or may not be correct I think you are nitpicking for no sensible reason. I have been driving and teaching people to drive for a very long time and I have often pulled up on the right for a variety of reasons as illustrated in the DVSA blog “Why pulling up on the right is real-life driving” which you can read here. If you are an ADI who qualified before 27th December 2017 you must have pulled up on the right to carry out a right hand reverse as part of the test. If necessary – if it would benefit other road users – I imagine you would give a signal to inform other road users what you were doing otherwise they are likely to be confused by a car stationary in the middle of the road.
      If the purpose of your complaint to the ombudsman is to ensure the Highway Code is updated to remove any doubt then I guess that is fair enough and good luck to you. If your complaint is designed to try and stop people signalling to pull up on the right I think you are misguided it is after all that is what most of us do.

  3. Hi John,
    Thank you for your reply. I will have been on the ADI register for half a century next year but that doesn’t make me right.
    The reason that the HWC says, in bold, that the right signal should not be used for stopping on the right is to bring it in line with all other European countries who either disallow stopping against the flow of traffic by law or discourage it as does our own HWC.
    Some people use a left signal to say “I am ready to be overtaken” and others use the hazard warning lights to acknowledge a courtesy, lgv drivers signal left-right-left for the same reason, others flash their headlights to invite others to precede them; all are wrong. The HWC has been clear on this for over half a century: “Signals should not be used for other than their described purpose”. The HWC must remain our essential authority. The DVSA has neither the authority nor the competence to summarily overrule the HWC; that way lies anarchy.
    Kind regards,

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