Reverse bay parking. Plenty of qualified drivers even sometimes struggle with reversing into a parking space. Not only is this a manoeuvre that may come up during your practical driving test, but it’s also a useful skill to master for after you’ve passed.
Now, you might be thinking, ‘I can just drive forward into parking spaces, that’s much easier’. But reversing in has it’s advantages – and once you’ve got it down, it’s just as easy to reverse park than it is to drive in forward.
So why is reversing into a parking spot the better option? When you’re going into a parking space – you have a much clearer idea of what’s around you and where you’re moving your car to. However, when you’re leaving the space – there’s so much more that could be going on around you that is less visible. Other cars pulling out, vehicles – or pedestrians – walking past your space could all present hazards – especially as other people may not see you trying to move out of your space.
This is why it’s better if you reverse into a parking space – as you can then leave the space by driving forward, with more visibility of your surroundings. And with most modern cars fitted with reverse parking cameras, it’s never been easier to get the hang of reversing bay parking.
But we want you to feel confident reversing into a space whether you have a camera or not. These ‘how-to’ tips are designed to help you master reversing into a parking bay for your driving test – and beyond.
“I’d like you to reverse into a convenient parking bay finishing within the lines, either to the left or right.”
When a driving examiner says these words on your test, you can either recoil in horror – or feel at ease knowing exactly what you need to do.
Choose which parking bay you want to park in – and pull up and stop about 1/1.5 metre out from the end of the parking bay box, and around two car lengths forward from this bay.
Decide if you need to adjust your side mirrors downwards so you have a clear view of the wheel arches and the lines of the parking bay.
Select the reverse gear to prepare to start the manoeuvre.
Take a good look around the car to make sure there’s no vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists nearby, and if necessary wait until they have passed before you start reversing.
Start reversing the car slowly, until you are about a bay and a half away from your target location. At this point you begin turning the steering wheel towards your target bay – if the bay is on your right, then turn the wheel to your right, and if the bay is on your left, turn the wheel to your left.
Allow your car to start entering the parking bay using strict clutch control, while making sure you keep checking all your mirrors and windows to check around your car for passing vehicles or pedestrians.
As your car becomes straight, straighten your steering wheel while also checking both side mirrors to make sure you’re in the centre of the bay – and make any necessary adjustments.
While you slowly back into the bay, keep watching your back window to check you don’t go too far back and hit another vehicle or obstruction.
Try to keep an equal amount of space on both sides of your car. If you’re too much to one side, pull your car forward completely out of the parking bay – and then when you reverse back into the space again, turn the steering wheel towards the wider gap until it looks even, and then straighten the steering wheel.
Once your car is in the right position, stop the car, put your handbrake on, and put it in neutral.
And there you have it. Your guide to reverse bay parking – even without having a reversing camera fitted in your car.
For more useful tips that aim to simplify driving – and in particular, driving manoeuvres – check out the Learn To Drive… An Easier Way book.
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