PDA

View Full Version : Driving in Reverse: "Steer in the Opposite Way"?


Baal Houtham
06-15-2010, 04:07 PM
Several times in my life I've heard people say that when you're backing up in a car you need to "steer in the opposite direction."

Just this morning when I was talking to a friend about trying to teach my daughter to drive in reverse, he mentioned steering in the opposite direction.

I've been skeptical of that advice for 25 years, and right now it's a real issue so I'm trying to examine it more critically.

Two questions;
1. Are you familiar with that advice?

2. Is it bogus?

To me, it's bogus. When you're backing up, if you want the car to move to your right, you turn the wheel to the right. Clockwise moves you right, Counter-clockwise moves you left, just like when you're moving forward.

Am I missing something?

Anne Neville
06-15-2010, 04:11 PM
I was taught it as "Turn the wheel the way you want your back end to go".

I suppose that means the front end turns the other way.

Baracus
06-15-2010, 04:24 PM
To me, it's bogus. When you're backing up, if you want the car to move to your right, you turn the wheel to the right. Clockwise moves you right, Counter-clockwise moves you left, just like when you're moving forward.

Am I missing something?
If you have your head turned and are looking backward, then to go left from that perspective requires you to turn the wheel right.

Bosstone
06-15-2010, 04:31 PM
To me, it's bogus. When you're backing up, if you want the car to move to your right, you turn the wheel to the right. Clockwise moves you right, Counter-clockwise moves you left, just like when you're moving forward.

Am I missing something?I'm WAGing here, but what you say of course makes sense. I think when people have difficulty backing up, and I certainly did while I was learning, they don't reverse their mental direction. If you turn the wheel to the left while the car is going forward, you car goes from | to \. So, if you're backing up and you want to go right, you're trying to orient the car so it goes \, so you turn the wheel to the left.

I'm guessing here, because it has been a while, but that seems like the (subconscious) thought process. Obviously, if you take the time to think about the positioning of the wheels, the correct way quickly makes sense.

tdn
06-15-2010, 04:45 PM
2. Is it bogus?

I don't think it's "bogus", I think it's a matter of perspective. I think that Baracus and Bosstone got it right, depending on how you're thinking of things.

If you want the front of the car to point more to the left, steer right.

If you're turned around, the back becomes the new front, so left and right are reversed. If you want your (turned around) "new front" to go left, then steer right.

74westy
06-15-2010, 05:20 PM
Were they talking about backing up a trailer?

Lanzy
06-15-2010, 06:04 PM
Were they talking about backing up a trailer?

This makes more sense.

EmAnJ
06-15-2010, 06:25 PM
Were they talking about backing up a trailer?

This is the only time I've heard the phrase 'steer in the opposite direction' (you want the trailer to go).

Hedda Rosa
06-15-2010, 06:29 PM
This kinda goes with the whole "steer into the skid" thing that you also hear in drivers ed...but also makes no sense. Why do they make it so complicated - I just turn the steering wheel in the direction I want the car to go.

Gary T
06-15-2010, 07:26 PM
Going forward, facing forward, you turn the wheel to the right (clockwise) to go right.

To go backward, your lower body (hips and legs) is still seated in a "forward" position, and the arm you're steering with is in essentially the same orientation as it was when going forward, but your shoulders and neck are turned so your head is facing backward, so you can see where you're going. Now, if you want the rear (leading end) of the car to go the left from your head's perspective, the wheel needs to be turned to the right (passenger) side of the car, again clockwise. So you turn the wheel to the right to go left. Thus you steer in the opposite direction.

Richard Pearse
06-15-2010, 08:38 PM
it's advice that may only work for certain people. I mentally feel like I'm steering the way I want to go, obviously my brain is wired in a way that it seems natural to me.

To me if I want to steer right from my body's perspective, I steer "right hand down."

Really Not All That Bright
06-15-2010, 08:57 PM
This kinda goes with the whole "steer into the skid" thing that you also hear in drivers ed...but also makes no sense. Why do they make it so complicated - I just turn the steering wheel in the direction I want the car to go.
Presumably you haven't actually managed to slide a car before then. If you are skidding, the rear end is coming around. If you keep the front wheels pointed where they were, you will wind up pointing too far in that direction.

Richard Pearse
06-15-2010, 09:44 PM
Presumably you haven't actually managed to slide a car before then. If you are skidding, the rear end is coming around. If you keep the front wheels pointed where they were, you will wind up pointing too far in that direction.
But if you feel the car sliding then you're going to turn the other way naturally. If you point your front wheels in the direction you want the car to go you'll be ok (to a point). I think the difficulty comes from people who have no natural ability trying to put into words what a lot of other people just do naturally. This is great for the people who need the help but can lead to over-thinking and confusion for those who were already doing it properly.

Really Not All That Bright
06-15-2010, 09:48 PM
I do think "steer into the skid" is unnecessarily confusing. The British version, "apply opposite lock" makes much more sense.

Baal Houtham
06-15-2010, 10:30 PM
If you turn the wheel to the left while the car is going forward, you car goes from | to \. So, if you're backing up and you want to go right, you're trying to orient the car so it goes \, so you turn the wheel to the left.
Obviously, if you take the time to think about the positioning of the wheels, the correct way quickly makes sense.

My initial instructions (to my daughter) were to think of the way the wheels were turned.

I'd hold up my forearms and say, "If your wheels are like this \ \ then you'll obviously go this way... " And sweep my hands clockwise. That didn't work.

Were they talking about backing up a trailer?

No, but obviously it can't be true for both a car with and without a trailer. For a trailer it makes sense to me.

This kinda goes with the whole "steer into the skid" thing that you also hear in drivers ed...but also makes no sense.

That's also bothered me for a long time, but I've never thought it through carefully. I mentioned that conventional wisdom to my daughter and told her that if she was sliding she should try to get her wheels straightened out.

Going forward, facing forward, you turn the wheel to the right (clockwise) to go right.

To go backward, your lower body (hips and legs) is still seated in a "forward" position, and the arm you're steering with is in essentially the same orientation as it was when going forward, but your shoulders and neck are turned so your head is facing backward (...)

Sometimes I just use the mirrors, and even when my head is turned it rarely goes beyond 90 degrees (i.e. perpendicular to my hips.) So, only a minute bit of my body is oriented more backwards than forwards.

it's advice that may only work for certain people. I mentally feel like I'm steering the way I want to go(...)

When I think back to my own "learning to drive" days, there was a moment akin to learning to ride a bicycle. Suddenly the brain understood what was required, with no verbalization required.

minlokwat
06-16-2010, 08:49 AM
Whilst doing my summer gig as a construction worker, I was one day operating a tractor with one of those big old, lawn mowing trailer attachments.

Going forward ='ed no problem but in reverse, forget about it.

Such that one day I was struggling mightily to back the rig into its storage spot and I got the entire unit hopelessly jackknifed and was about to snap the trailer right off. I asked one of the equipment operators to stand behind me and guide me in when he said, “I got it.”

He gets on the tractor, goes forward about three feet to straighten things out and then flings it in reverse and backs it up like it was nothing.

He flips me the keys and thought nothing of it. I was like, “How did you...with the thing...and going backward...”

v6hilux
06-16-2010, 09:00 AM
In my opinion, steering a car or car and trailer in reverse can't be explained by me! I been doing it so long, with no problems, because I don't think about which way to turn the wheel, it just happens.

It all comes down to Cognitive thought for me. Also I remember when learning to drive (27 years ago) in reverse - "slow on the pedal and fast with the wheel" to correct a wrong move!

Just like looking at the talking passenger, pedals, shift stick and other accessories, how are you going to live very long if you are not looking where you are heading to?

Baal Houtham
06-16-2010, 09:54 AM
I do think "steer into the skid" is unnecessarily confusing. The British version, "apply opposite lock" makes much more sense.

I'm laughing a little about that being better advice, because to me, "apply opposite lock" seems like a verb/adjective/noun combo chosen by random pointing in a dictionary.

Ignite Unruly Templates.
Chastise Loving Catamarans.
Apply Opposite Lock.

I have no idea what it means.

kittenblue
06-16-2010, 10:09 AM
I've never been able to figure that one out. I've backed up trailers with no problems, as long as I didn't try to think about it too hard. Then somebody once told me that when backing up, it's easier if your hand is at the bottom of the wheel, instead of the top as usual. That seemed to help a lot. The more I think about "steer in the opposite direction the more confused I get...do you mean while I'm turned around looking out the back? Using the mirrors facing front? Which opposite!

And what the heck is an opposite lock?

Really Not All That Bright
06-16-2010, 10:24 AM
I'm laughing a little about that being better advice, because to me, "apply opposite lock" seems like a verb/adjective/noun combo chosen by random pointing in a dictionary.
Steer the other way. Or...

Defenestrate Jordanian buckets.

Snickers
06-16-2010, 04:02 PM
Doesn't the "steer into the skid" thing only work if you have a certain type of car? I seem to recall that it works a treat for rear-wheel drive cars, but for front-wheel drive, you want to steer the car the way you want to go. Or I might have that backwards.

Anyway, when skidding up here in the frozen north, I steer the way I want the car to go. That said, I don't skid that often, and I haven't gone out and "whipped shitties" in the time-honored northern tradition either. I think I should next winter.

Mops
06-16-2010, 04:10 PM
I have no problem steering a car when driving backwards, but the one time the passenger (my father) helpfully advised me to steer the opposite way I became confused, had to pull forward and drive backwards again, my way this time.

Really Not All That Bright
06-16-2010, 04:15 PM
Doesn't the "steer into the skid" thing only work if you have a certain type of car? I seem to recall that it works a treat for rear-wheel drive cars, but for front-wheel drive, you want to steer the car the way you want to go. Or I might have that backwards.
It's almost impossible to get the back end to really step out in a front-wheel drive car. If the vehicle loses grip, it's nearly always at the front, so it understeers, rather than oversteers. In that instance, you'd either want to lift off slowly or just keep going.

Strassia
06-16-2010, 04:27 PM
This kinda goes with the whole "steer into the skid" thing that you also hear in drivers ed...but also makes no sense. Why do they make it so complicated - I just turn the steering wheel in the direction I want the car to go.

But if you feel the car sliding then you're going to turn the other way naturally. If you point your front wheels in the direction you want the car to go you'll be ok (to a point). I think the difficulty comes from people who have no natural ability trying to put into words what a lot of other people just do naturally. This is great for the people who need the help but can lead to over-thinking and confusion for those who were already doing it properly.

The point of steering into the skid is to regain traction. You point your wheels in the direction of motion and they are now rolling with the motion and you have control again and your brakes work better. If you steer away from the skid, you are applying only sliding friction to slow down and it takes longer to regain control.

Chessic Sense
06-16-2010, 04:50 PM
I never got the whole "opposite" thing either, because when I back up, my mind's eye is above the car, looking down, not in my head looking out the back windshield.

I'm not sure that the twisting around is the problem for people that have issues with it. I think it's figuring out that they want to end up with their back to the destination, not their face. If I want to back up to the right (East), I want to end up facing left (West). People try to make it so that if they back up to the right, they'll end up facing left, and that's where the error comes from.

Just a WAG.

v6hilux
06-16-2010, 06:40 PM
"apply opposite lock"

I have no idea what it means.

Opposite Lock is in reference to Full Lock, but because the rear is stepping out and you want to stop it sliding, so the if we want to be pedantic, the Term should be "Full Opposite Lock ". But that's too many words for some!


It's almost impossible to get the back end to really step out in a front-wheel drive car.

Park Brake or do you call it Hand Brake! How hard is that, providing it works, just remember to keep the button pressed after you have "caught" it!

Chefguy
06-16-2010, 07:02 PM
I've been driving for nearly 50 years, in all sorts of cars, trucks, heavy equipment, tractor-trailers, dock mules, etc. The ONLY time steering the opposite way of desired direction is required is when you are backing a trailer with a standard vehicle (like a car or truck). This is because you have two pivot points: front wheels and hitch ball. There are vehicles designed to back loads without having to do this sort of maneuvering. "Steer the opposite way of where you want to go" when just backing up a car is just bad advice.

Richard Pearse
06-16-2010, 08:05 PM
The point of steering into the skid is to regain traction. You point your wheels in the direction of motion and they are now rolling with the motion and you have control again and your brakes work better. If you steer away from the skid, you are applying only sliding friction to slow down and it takes longer to regain control.
See, to me "steer into the skid" is ambiguous. If I didn't know what it was supposed to mean I would think it meant to turn the steering wheel in the direction the car is spinning. Much better to just show people some cars racing around a dirt track and get them to watch what the front wheels are doing, "see how the front wheels are always pointing in the direction the driver wants the car to go? do that."

EmAnJ
06-17-2010, 11:24 AM
The point of steering into the skid is to regain traction. You point your wheels in the direction of motion and they are now rolling with the motion and you have control again and your brakes work better. If you steer away from the skid, you are applying only sliding friction to slow down and it takes longer to regain control.

Yes, this is what I was taught and have successfully done in a skid on icy roads.

Say I am driving straight on and hit some ice. I start spinning towards my right ditch. Rather then steering to the left, AWAY from the direction of my skid (which is a normal reaction), I steer in to the skid - to the right - without applying too much brake, and maybe even a bit of gas, if required. As stated, I then regain control by steering in the direction the car wants to go and slowly apply my brakes. If I steer away from the skid, I'm unable to use my brakes to effectively slow me as quickly as I can if all tires are facing the direction the car is going.

Don't you guys watch Canada's Worst Driver? :p They teach this skill every year.

Baal Houtham
06-17-2010, 11:56 AM
Opposite Lock is in reference to Full Lock, but because the rear is stepping out and you want to stop it sliding, so if we want to be pedantic, the Term should be "Full Opposite Lock ".
(...)
Park Brake or do you call it Hand Brake!

In the States (at least here in the Midwest) a Park Brake is called the Emergency Brake. It's not a very good term, but that's the handle.

And in the Midwest, "Full Lock" and "Opposite Lock" aren't used to describe automotive sliding or steering. More likely they would be be used in reference to wrestling or river boat traffic... but not even then really.

But I am interested in knowing the definitions.

Chefguy
06-17-2010, 12:56 PM
Yes, this is what I was taught and have successfully done in a skid on icy roads.

Say I am driving straight on and hit some ice. I start spinning towards my right ditch. Rather then steering to the left, AWAY from the direction of my skid (which is a normal reaction), I steer in to the skid - to the right - without applying too much brake, and maybe even a bit of gas, if required. As stated, I then regain control by steering in the direction the car wants to go and slowly apply my brakes. If I steer away from the skid, I'm unable to use my brakes to effectively slow me as quickly as I can if all tires are facing the direction the car is going.

Don't you guys watch Canada's Worst Driver? :p They teach this skill every year.

For front-wheel drive vehicles, it's proper to steer in the direction you wish to go and apply light acceleration. For rear-wheel drive vehicles, steer in the direction that the rear of the car is moving and lightly apply braking.

Teacake
06-17-2010, 04:25 PM
In the States (at least here in the Midwest) a Park Brake is called the Emergency Brake. It's not a very good term, but that's the handle.

And in the Midwest, "Full Lock" and "Opposite Lock" aren't used to describe automotive sliding or steering. More likely they would be be used in reference to wrestling or river boat traffic... but not even then really.

But I am interested in knowing the definitions.

Full lock just means turning the steering wheel as far as it will go in one direction. It's more often right lock or left lock, though, since "lock" by itself now means turning it all the way. And now the word lock has lost all meaning because I've typed it too many times in one paragraph.



And now I have Hobbes in my head saying "smocksmocksmock".

RickJay
06-17-2010, 04:43 PM
Put your eyes on a fixed point you want to move towards and steer towards that.

That makes more sense to me than "steer into the skid."

v6hilux
06-17-2010, 07:04 PM
"Full Lock" and "Opposite Lock"

But I am interested in knowing the definitions.

My understanding in Aus is what "Teacake" stated above. Wheel turned all the way untill the Steering Stop Bracket on your Chassis is stopping further wheel pivot, however, I will add that Opposite lock is what you see Drift Car racers do. Rear wheels spinning and traveling sidways in the same direction the front wheels are pointed at full lock, with the momentum of the vehicle being a greater force than the traction of the rear wheels can give because they are spinning so fast. Also applies in the situation of sliding on ice.



NOW - As for learning what to do in an emergency situation that you don't plan for, I suggest getting out into a nice smooth paddock with no pot holes and nothing to hit and having a Hoon around the place to learn about how a car will react when you corner too hard with the gas to the floor. Also play with the foot brake and hand brake. It will teach your Cognitive how to react and could save damage or lives in the future.

Having this inbuilt into your brain from when you start learning to drive, I will say it should probably save people countless times! This is basically what Advanced Driver Training is all about.

Sue Duhnym
06-19-2010, 12:54 AM
I'm with you, OP. You turn the wheel the same direction you want the leading end of the car to go. It works in reverse (back end leading) or drive (front end leading).

Autolycus
06-19-2010, 02:09 AM
I can't really verbalize what I'm thinking about or doing when I drive in reverse. I started driving only two years ago so maybe that's why. I did learn some valuable skid advice though.