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Signals When Backing Up Your Car – Stop The Confusion [2023]

signals when backing up

Turn Signals For Driving Backwards

Wondering about turn signals when backing up? You’re not the only one. A lot of people wonder if you’re supposed to signal when you’re backing, out of a parking stall for example.

Technically, you are supposed to signal (forward or backward) if there is someone to signal to.

This article will get into the nitty gritty: Turning signals for backing to the right and left, which way to turn the wheel, plus more details. And if you’re new to reversing a car in general, check out my detailed guide on how to reverse a car properly and Right-of-Way in the Parking Lot.

We’ve got a question from a reader about signals when backing up. Even when we use signals when we drive in a forward fashion, we tend to confuse each other, and this is evident if you’ve ever driven anywhere.

You can read more about that in my article: Who is at fault if a car signals but doesn’t turn? When you back up, simply use the same kind of signals that you would if you were driving forwards.

In other words, for going straight, don’t signal; for backing to the right, signal right, and for backing to the left, signal left.

Question: When Backing Up, Which Signal Should I Use?

The answer to this very perplexing question about signals when backing up is this: It’s the same as when you are going forward.

  • In other words, if you are going straight, don’t signal
  • If you’re backing to the right, signal right
  • If backing to the left, signal left

That way, the other road users around you may better understand where you plan to go.

signals when backing up

Signals When Backing Up – Going Straight? Don’t Signal

If you’re backing in a straight line, don’t signal. Same as if you are driving forwards and going straight or not turning.

If you signal when backing in a straight line, you will only confuse people.

straight line backing

Do You Have To Use Your Blinker When Backing Out?

Do you need to signal when pulling out of a parking space?

You should use your turn signal before reversing out of a parking spot unless you 100% know for certain that there are no other road users anywhere.

Legally, we must signal if there is someone to signal to.

It’s a good habit to just do it, in case there are road users that you can’t see, but who may be able to see you.

BC Motor Vehicle Act

Starting vehicle

169  A person must not move a vehicle that is stopped, standing or parked unless the movement can be made with reasonable safety and he or she first gives the appropriate signal under section 171 or 172.

British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act

Signals When Backing Up – When Backing To The Right, Signal Right

do you need to signal when pulling out of a parking space

Signals When Backing Up – Backing To The Left, Signal Left

do you have to indicate when reversing out of a parking spot

Signals When Backing Up – Not Sure Which Way To Signal?

If you aren’t sure which way to signal when about to reverse, just ask yourself one question:

“Which way am I about to turn my steering wheel?”

The answer is your answer.

If you don’t know which way to turn your steering wheel for backing up, check out: Reversing a Car – The Ultimate Guide + 11 Tips to Stop Confusion. And if you have difficulty with the actual job of steering, check out my article Steering Techniques for Safe Driving & Car Control.

do you need to indicate when reversing

Make Sure Your Reversing Lights Are In Good Working Order

Reversing lights on a car
Reversing Lights

This Is Your Other Reversing Signal

Reversing lights are white lights that are supposed to illuminate the back of every car.

But they use light bulbs, which can sometimes burn out. Make sure to regularly check and make sure these are working.

One of the easiest ways to check them is by reversing up to a window or mirror where you can see your car’s reflection.

That’s helpful when you don’t have another human that can check your reversing lights for you.

Additional Backing & Parking Resources

If you need to learn more about driving backward and parking, refer to the Parking and Reversing category section on this site.

In addition, it’s good to also Park Your Car in the Right Gear so that it doesn’t roll away down a hill without you.

These articles and many others – such as this rather epic collection of Road Test Tips – can also be helpful if you’re trying to teach someone how to drive.


The whole backing/parking thing can be very confusing for new drivers. It’s true that we are legally supposed to signal to other road users, including when we are backing up.

If you’re having trouble remembering, just signal whichever way you’re going to be steering; just like when driving forward. If you have never driven forwards before, well that’s okay, just read this article for brand new drivers or check out my YouTube channel.

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Signals When Backing Up Your Car - Stop The Confusion [2023]
Carmen Cohoe
Carmen became a driving instructor in beautiful North Vancouver at the age of 22 due to some crazy people who agreed to hire her. After that, there was never a dull moment teaching many different folks from many different places how to drive using automatic and standard vehicles and a minivan.