Parallel Parking

For the purposes of a driving test you will reverse behind a single parked car and you will be given two car lengths to complete the manoeuvre in. You won’t usually be asked to park between two parked cars. If in reality you were to park between cars you would need at least one and a half car lengths to do it in safely. Parallel parking is classed as the same manoeuvre as reversing into a car parking space, so it is unlikely you will have these two manoeuvres together in any given driving test.

1) Once asked to perform the manoeuvre approach he parked car just as you would if you were intending to drive past it. Check your mirrors to see if anyone is following. If there is a car following some distance behind you or driving towards you, you might be best to apply a left signal to show your intentions. Try and draw up alongside the parked car about an arms length away.

2) Once in this position select reverse gear as soon as possible to illuminate your rear white reversing lights and then apply the handbrake. Anyone approaching you from behind should then realise that you need some space and leave a suitable gap for you.

3) All round observations. Make sure there are no approaching vehicles. Look over your left shoulder and reverse slowly. Just as the rear of your car starts to pass the back of the parked car, steer left. Remember as you steer left your front offside will swing out into the road so check your offside blind spot as you steer. Give way to any cars that are intending to drive past. Steer a lot but not full lock, as you will swing out wide.

4) The best angle to approach the kerb is about 45*, it sounds technical but just look out of the back window and watch the kerb go across it. When the kerb disappears out of the offside rear corner you will be at about the correct angle of approach so now straighten your wheels. The car will now be heading for the kerb and may start to roll fast if there is a steep camber on the road.

5) Now the hard part, if we steer right too early you will be too far from the kerb. Too late and you might end up on it!! Reverse back and try and judge when your passenger is in line with the driver’s side of the parked car, just as you would if you were looking down the side of a car trying to look for small dent’s in the doors. When you feel that your passenger is in that position you are about the right distance from the kerb to steer right full lock. The front of the car will swing in towards the kerb.

6) Whilst looking out of the rear window where you are going, keep a check on your left door mirror to see if your back wheel is going to hit the kerb. When you are becoming parallel with the kerb straighten your wheels. Remember that when you have the steering on full lock, the wheels stick out quite a lot and will strike the kerb if not ‘tucked in’ in time by straightening them. Once straight secure the car with you handbrake and select neutral.

Keep your speed to a minimum. When performing this manoeuvre for the first few times students tend to go too fast and end up hitting the kerb. You really need accurate clutch control for the first stage and feathered braking with the clutch down for the second stage where the car tends to roll by itself.

If your rear nearside wheel is going to hit the kerb then stop the car. You are allowed to move the car forward and reverse again, you will not fail for doing this. To make a correction, apply the handbrake so you don’t roll back, select first gear and find the bite. Check all round and move forward a few feet now steering left and then stop. Select reverse gear, check around and reverse back again (most likely letting the car roll slowly if on a sloping camber). Steer to the right again as fast as you can, full lock. This is giving you a second chance again to park the right distance from the kerb.

If instead when you originally park you are going to be too far from the kerb, you need to spot it early and straighten your wheels to put the car closer to it, before steering right full lock again to put yourself parallel to it.

If there are any pedestrians on the pavement walking by, stop and wait until they are clear of the space behind you. Never reverse towards people.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep a look out for approaching cars and pedestrians and to look in the direction you are travelling.

If you are having problems with remembering which way to steer, remember ‘Lovely Red Roses’ for Left, Right, Right.

Reversing Into a Parking Bay

Method 1 :

1) Position yourself so that you are 90 degrees to the parking bays. Let’s assume you are reversing to the left.

2) Secure the car, select reverse gear, your white reversing lights will then show your intentions

3) All round observations.

4) Reverse back slowly, when you can see a white line roughly lined up with the centre of the passenger door steer left full lock. (You are likely to end up in the 3rd bay from the line.

5) As the car swings round check to your right to ensure no cars are trying to drive past, also keep a look out for pedestrians.

6) Check where the car is heading.

7) After a short while you will see the left side white line appear in the left door mirror followed by the right hand line in your right door mirror.

8) Adjust your steering accordingly to put the car equally between the lines.

9) When the lines appear parallel straighten.

10) Check all around for pedestrians as you reverse the car in to the space fully.

11) If you are incorrectly alligned, check it's safe before moving forward and adjusting your position before reversing back again.

12) When you are safely parked, secure the car.

Method 2 :

1) Select a space you wish to reverse into, let’s assume it’s again on the left.

2) As you approach it and the front of the car draws level with the far side of it, steer to the right to turn away.

3) You should then be able to look out of the rear window and see the space directly behind the car.

4) Secure the car and select reverse.

5) All round observations.

6) Reverse back slowly steering as necessary to put the car equally between the lines.

7) Check your door mirrors for accuracy but keep a constant all round look out for cars and pedestrians.

8) When the car is fully in the space, secure the car.

Door mirrors are convex to give a wild angled view. This can ‘bend’ images and give misleading information on your true position. Check both door mirrors not just one, and get a balance of the two images you see. All round observations throughout are paramount.

In terms of a driving test it won’t matter too much if the car is at an angle within the lines.

You must be between the lines with none of your wheels touching them. If you can see the car is going to end up on a line, move forward a good distance and reverse back again. You won’t fail for doing this.

Remember that even a small amount of steering when reversing will cause the front of the car to swing out possibly over a line.

Although the door mirrors are ideal for checking your position, remember that is all you want to do with them, is ‘check’.

You should be keeping a look out all around you and actually look at where you are going. Don’t rely solely on the mirrors.

Turn in the Road

(No longer equired on test, but should you end up in a situation that requires you to turn around you would be expected to be able to do this).

Firstly make sure you are on a road wide enough to perform the manoeuvre within your ability. Is the location safe and lawful? Ensure there are no obstructions at the kerbsides such as trees or lampposts that you may collide with. You need a clear unobstructed view of the road in both directions. This will also ensure that you too will be seen by approaching traffic.

Remember that it up to you to give way to any traffic that approaches, they may want to drive past without stopping. Also give way to pedestrians that are using the pavement in front of you or behind you, never drive towards people.

The secret to this manoeuvre is SLOW speed and FAST steering.

Step 1 :

Prepare the car in first gear.

All round observations.

If safe, use clutch control to move forward slowly.

Steer quickly to the right to achieve full lock.

As you go over the ‘crown’ of the road you may feel the car start to roll down the camber, if so, clutch down and gently use the footbrake to control the speed.

As you near the opposite kerb steer left to straighten the wheels. This reduces the amount of work you need to do on the reverse and also reduces the possibility of damage to power steering motors.

Stop the car before you hit or overhang the kerb.

If necessary, apply the handbrake.

Step 2 :

Prepare the car in reverse gear.

All round observations.

If safe, look over your left shoulder out the rear window.

Reverse back slowly steering left.

Again as you pass over the crown of the road you may feel the car roll down the camber, if so, clutch down and use the footbrake as necessary.

Once over the ‘crown’ look right and steer right.

Stop the car before you hit or overhang the kerb.

If necessary, apply the handbrake.

Step 3 :

Prepare the car in first gear.

All round observations.

If safe, drive away.

If you find yourself getting close to the kerb as you drive away don’t risk striking it, repeat steps 2 & 3 again.

Never beckon other drivers to pass, let them decide for themselves on which course of action to take, but remember, you are giving way to them. Keep a good look out for other road users at all times!