Turn Signals When Backing Up Your Vehicle

Turn Signals When Reversing Your Vehicle

Are drivers supposed to signal when backing up? If so, which way? Even as we use turn signals while driving forward, we tend to confuse each other. This is clearly evident if you’ve ever driven anywhere.

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

When you back up, simply use the same kind of signals that you would if you were driving forward.

In other words:

  • Backing straight? Don’t signal
  • Backing to the right? Signal right
  • Backing to the left? Signal left
straight line backing
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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. Technically speaking, drivers are legally required to use turn signals whenever there are other road users 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

When Backing To The Right, Signal Right

do you need to signal when pulling out of a parking space
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Backing To The Left, Signal Left

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

do you need to indicate when reversing
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Make Sure Your Reversing Lights Are In Good Working Order

Reversing lights on a car
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Reversing Lights

This Is Your Other Reversing Signal

Reversing lights are white lights that are supposed to illuminate at the back of every car automatically when it’s put into reverse gear. 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 can be helpful when you don’t have another human who 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 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 as well as all drivers. Indeed, we are legally supposed to signal to other road users, including when we are backing up.

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

Related Articles:

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.

2 thoughts on “Turn Signals When Backing Up Your Vehicle

  • Could not have said this better myself. This is a great article, and I appreciate you taking the time to write it.I have Online Driver’s Ed. Courses Institution in Texas for a long time and have trained many students.There are many things I try and teach drivers on it, and i am going to reference this article.

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