How To Master Parallel Parking/Reverse Parking

Last Updated: 10/05/2022

This manoeuvre is one that’s pretty tricky yo pick-up but also one which you will find yourself using an awful lot.

There will be so many occasions when you go out to the shops or pop our for the day that you find a parking space which requires you to reverse parallel park.

This actually puts many drivers off who will instead drive further to try and find an easier bay to park in.

However, if you spend the time practising, it’s such a useful skill to have that it seems a waste not to do so.

Plus, you’re going to need to be capable of doing it if you want to pass your driving test!

Reversing into a parking space requires some concentration, but it is worth it.

You will be able to drive off smoothly and you will not need as much room as you would if you were to drive forward into the parking space.

Many learner drivers worry about being able to reverse into a narrow space, but they quickly understand how much more convenient it is to be able to step into your vehicle and drive off.

You should only park in a place which will not cause problems for other road users to pass.

It is illegal to park on yellow lines or zig-zag markings so avoid these places also.

Always think of pedestrians before reversing into your parking space and remember to keep checking your rear as you move your vehicle.

Children or other pedestrians may step out behind our vehicle, so be prepared to stop.

Practise this manoeuvre until you get it right.

Preferably practise in the same vehicle so that you know exactly what you need to do to get parked neatly in your space.

What You Will Learn

To help get you prepared for this manoeuvre, we have put together this useful guide which will give you the advice you need so you can execute this manoeuvre with confidence.

The guide consists of:

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

  • During the driving test, the examiner will ask you to pull up next to the curb some distance behind a parked vehicle. You will then be required to execute the manoeuvre.
  • The first thing you should do is indicate and pull up alongside the parked vehicle so that you can assess if the parking space is big enough for you to safely reverse into. You should aim for at least two feet of space either end of your vehicle once it has been parked.
  • Obviously, before you pull out into traffic, make sure you’re checking your mirrors and blind spots. Safety remains paramount throughout.
  • When you are ready to execute the manoeuvre, you should drive forward slowly so that your passenger window is in-line with the front of the vehicle you are looking to park behind.
  • Stop, put the car in neutral gear and apply the handbrake.
  • When you are ready to reverse the vehicle, put the gear into reverse, Check all your mirrors and blind spot and when safe to do so, slowly start reversing.
  • Look over your left shoulder and rear-view window when you are reversing.
  • Whilst still reversing slowly, line-up your back tyres with the back bumper of the vehicle you are looking to park behind.
  • When you have lined-up your vehicle, stop, apply the handbrake and check all your mirrors and blind spot. When it is all clear, turn the wheel a full lock to the left and start to reverse into the space.
  • Take your time as you reverse into the space, continually looking around you for other vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Whilst reversing slowly, use the nearside mirror to check the position of the kerb and the rear view mirror check how close you are to the vehicle behind you.
  • Once you can see the kerb in the nearside mirror and you are clear of the vehicle in front, stop the car and then turn the wheel two full turns to the right.
  • Continue slowly reversing and you will notice the front of your vehicle starts to move closer to the kerb. Make sure you keep checking all mirrors and blind spot.
  • Once the front of the car is close to the kerb, stop, check all mirrors and blind spot again before turning the wheel to centre position to straighten the vehicle accordingly. Make sure that your front wheels are not sticking inwards/outwards.
  • When you are satisfied that the manoeuvre is complete, stop your vehicle, put it into neutral gear and apply the handbrake.

Video Demonstration

Useful Information

Practice makes perfect!

Keep practising this manoeuvre whenever you can as it will get better and better with each attempt.

It’s very much about confidence and being comfortable with the size of your vehicle.

If the parking space is particularly tight, you need to know when you can steer and if your car is even going to fit.

You will be well prepared when you are required to show the examiner that you can reverse your vehicle into a parking space with safety and precision.

Final Thoughts

It cannot be repeated enough how important it is to constantly look all around for pedestrians or approaching vehicles.

Don’t forget, you’re pulling next to the kerb – if it’s a busy shopping area, there may be shoppers walking out behind you, kids playing or other cars trying to quickly get into the space ahead of you.

If you do not continually check that it is clear to proceed, the examiner will not only fail you on this manoeuvre, but will also fail the whole driving test.

Finally, once you have passed your test, this is one of those manoeuvres that it pays to continue using and practising.

Further Resources