The reverse park or parallel park manoeuvre often strikes fear into the hearts and minds of learners and sometimes, full licence holders too! Knowing your reference points and practising often can turn this trickster into a piece of cake.
What is the examiner looking for?
- Accuracy – You need to park behind a vehicle, whilst not getting too close to it or the kerb.
- Control - Keep the speed slow and use the clutch control to help with reversing into the parking space.
- Observation – Keep your eyes peeled everywhere when performing this manoeuvre.
Prepare, Observe and Move.
Step by step – How to Parallel Park
Your examiner will tell you if and when they wish for you to reverse park the car. Remember the Mirror Signal Manoeuvre (Look, Tell, Do) routine before doing anything.
- Ideally, stop around half a car's length in front of the car you intend to reverse park behind (wait for the car to disappear behind the passenger door window)
- Once you have stopped, go into the reverse gear – this tells the other cars what you’re about to do
- Do all-round observations, and if there are any other vehicles or pedestrians, wait until they have passed before you carry on
- Once happy, look out the rear window and proceed to reverse
- Continue reversing until the back of your car is level with the car you plan to park behind
- When you are happy with the position of your car, stop. You are now at your point of turn
- Again, you need to make sure everywhere is clear. When turning, the front of your car will swing out into the road so you need to make sure there is no one around before doing this
- As you begin to reverse, turn the steering wheel once. This should put you at a 45-degree angle to turn into the parking space – if you imagine it as a clock, your car will be facing about 2 oClock
- Gather your reference point, usually by lining up the left corner of your car, to the right corner of the car you plan to park behind
- When you reach your reference point, turn the wheel two turns
- If you need to adjust your position at any point within this manoeuvre then you should; a parallel park doesn’t need to be one continuous movement
- Once you are happy with your position, keep reversing until you are around 30cm away from the kerb and when you’re there, straighten the wheels
- Once you have stopped, make sure you’re happy with your position. You’ll likely be pulling away again – make sure there’s enough room between you and the car in front to do this. When you’re happy, apply the handbrake and select neutral
And you’re done!
If upon finishing the parallel park, you find that there is too much room between you and the car in front, you can pull forward slightly to decrease the gap.
Top tips for Parallel Parking
- Give yourself plenty of time. There is no rush to get these manoeuvres done. Your examiner wants you to do it safely and correctly, not quickly.
- You could complete the best parallel park in the world, but if you don’t use your observations it will all be for nothing.
- The examiner will ideally pick a quiet road for you to perform the reverse parking manoeuvre and there will always be two car lengths between the parked cars, however, this isn’t always possible. If you find yourself performing a parallel park on a busy road, do not panic. The examiner allows plenty of time for you to complete it, and you may find that other vehicles will wait for you.
- It’s all about the practice. If you can get those two points (the point of turning in, and the point of straightening up) there will be nothing to worry about.