• mike posted an update 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    Who has right of way..? There is one (very quiet) ‘main’ road onto the estate I live on. My house is the first one you come to on a one-car-wide side road off to the right of the main road – a side road which is also the access road for parking for several other houses and flats. My driveway is off this side road.

    By far the easiest way for me to park on my driveway is to reverse in. To accomplish this I head into the estate on the main road, indicate right, and steer first right then left so I am diagonally across the main road, pointing the rear of the car into the side road. I immediately put the car into reverse and then reverse into the side road and thus into my driveway in one swoop.

    It’s not unusual that there is someone behind me as I come into the estate. The fact that I am indicating, and adopting a bizarre road position, combined with reversing lights, seems to be enough to warn almost all drivers that I’m about to do something odd and they hang back to let me complete the manoeuvre.

    I have one neighbour, though, who has twice now followed me down the main road, and shot behind me to enter the side road as I am starting my reverse. I didn’t say anything to him the first time – I fgured it might not have been completely obvious what I was about to do and I don’t want to cause acrimony. But he’s just done it again, and missed me by inches. I habitually start the reverse pretty sharply because I’m conscious I don’t want to hold people up, which means I was already heading into the side street when he went behind me.

    I’m going to talk to him tomorrow. Didn’t want to do it tonight, as I’m aware some people can be quite heated when their driving is questioned. But seriously, what the frack does he think I’m about to do when I’m indicating right with my reversing lights on? Would anyone else here think ‘that’s an opportunity to nip in quick’?

    If we collided, I’m sure it’d be a 50-50 shared blame from the insurers. But who, technically, had right of way?

    • I believe the insurer would normally blame the reversing driver in any incident where one driver was reversing and the other not. Definitely on anything you might describe as a main road, but perhaps not always in a car park. I’ve always seen reversing as one of those things where the onus is on you to make sure there’s no-one else about or in the way before doing it.

      Given that your neighbour may well have right of way, maybe he’s just trying to get out of your way quickly? I wouldn’t try it myself though, I’d expect the reversing car to yield but I’d hang back until I was sure they were going to. Or maybe I’d flash them in if I thought that would help flow on the main road.

      It’s not so different to parallel parking in town I guess. I go past the space, then pull up next to the next parked car, indicate left, and pop it in reverse. But I don’t actually go backwards unless I can see the car behind is stopped well back. Usually they leave plenty of space, but sometimes they pull up right behind me. Which is annoying, but I just stay where I am with the indicator on until they find a way past or whatever.

      • “I go past the space, then pull up next to the next parked car, indicate left, and pop it in reverse.”

        Get your indicator on before you stop. No wonder people aren’t leaving you enough space to reverse in, they don’t know your intentions until it’s too late 😉

    • I await informed replies eagerly.

      I either reverse from a main road on to my drive, or reverse from my drive on to a main road.

      Not having a death wish, I reverse from the road to my drive and then leave forwards. However the summer organ donor season looms and a lot of bikes will be doing 2x the village speed limit soon. I’m convinced it’s only a matter of time before one of them kills themselves on me. I use the last mile before the bend in to the village, which has good rear visibility, to get a good awareness of what’s behind me. But that doesn’t help with bikes piling in to a 30 mph zone at 80+ mph.

    • Do you really want to get into a neighbour dispute with him? Neighbour disputes can get ugly, and at worst could affect the sale of your property at some future date.

      As the question of “right of way” sounds a bit grey to me, I’d be inclined to accept that as a driver he appears to be an inconsiderate wanker and just accept that he’s going to do what you describe. You’ll presumably recognize him again, so next time he’s behind you, just hang back and let him do what he does, you’ll only lose a few seconds and you remain in control of the situation.

    • Sounds like he is driving inconsiderately, but equally so are you and therefore the potential collision (it usually takes two to tango.) In my view, reversing without looking properly puts you more at fault.

      If you have someone behind you in that situation, you should pull over at the side of the main access road just past your junction, let everyone pass, then start your maneuver.

    • Either

      1. Reverse more slowly so there’s no chance of reversing into them


      2. when you do your swing to the right and then back left, don’t leave enough gap to enable someone to jump into it

      Personally, life is short and 1 is simple.

    • Cheers, all. This is interesting – I had seen the situation as me being in the middle of a manouevre and him being utterly in the wrong for getting in the way of it (in exactly the same vein as the driver who pulls up to your bumper when you’re parallel reversing into a space). But it does seem others are seeing it as more nuanced than that. Thanks.

      For what it’s worth, though I call it a ‘main’ road it’s carrying one car every three minutes or so at its busiest, so we’re never holding up any other traffic.

      He’s a director on the board of the estate management company, which I have the misfortune to chair, so I can really do without a feud! I think I need to talk to him – it’s going to be an elephant in the room otherwise – but I’m going to approach it from a PoV of ‘we’re clearly seeing this situation differently; how do we avoid colliding next time?’

      Thanks for replies.

    • My understanding is that you should always reverse into the more minor road. I assume forwarding onto the minor road, going past your house before reversing onto your drive isn’t an option.

      Difficult to visualize the road layout from your description but how about switching your hazard lights on before you start reversing so make it extra clear that you are making an unusual manouver?

      • “I assume forwarding onto the minor road, going past your house before reversing onto your drive isn’t an option.”

        There’s not enough room to swing into my drive if I do that – the side road has an enormous hedge that gets in the way.

        Freeflyer – that’s more or less my plan. I just can’t imagine he doesn’t know what I’m about to do (he’s seen it before and my car is reasonably distinctive, as is the road position I’m in!) so it must be that he simply believes he has RoW and assumes I will wait.

        I’d prefer to persuade him that he ought to wait, because that’s what literally every other car that’s been behind me has ever done (this has happened probably approaching 50 times in the three years I’ve lived here), and if I have to make an exception and wait just for him I have to play a guess-the-headlights-in-my-mirror game every time I come home… if I wait for everyone, I think I’m going to annoy a lot of people who are patiently hanging back for me!

    • Wrt insurance, unless there’s a clear winner they seem to do 50-50. For example this happened to me when I was reversing out of a slow queue at the M6 toll, another driver was cutting across the queues with similar intentions and there was a mini-bump. The other party was not impressed at the 50-50 decision as he assumed like other posters here that if you’re reversing you’re at fault, and had come up with a bill of £000s for a scratched bumper.

      How about approaching your neighbour with “what should I do so you understand the situation”? Maybe a bit less confrontational.

    • Personally speaking when reversing in the kind of situation that you describe I’ve always viewed it as my responsibility to give way in order to complete the manoeuvre safely.

      I would generally achieve this by pulling over to the left to allow the vehicle behind to pass before I hit reverse.

    • I have to do a similar manouver to reverse into our drive. Our street is already limited to 20 so I slow right down, indicate left briefly then steer across to the right. Some drivers are so impatient that they are already lining up to pass me on the right, some even dive to the left to try to nip past behind me. It’s all about stopping them then completing the manouver briskly.