A-Class Driving School's Online Driving Tutorials -
Parallel Parking / Reverse Parking

The reverse park does require you to be accurate.  Speed is the key. You want the car to be moving as slowly as an elderly person walking across the road whilst using brisk hands to get the wheels on the ground facing the way you want them. You'll not have to park between two cars on your exam, you'll use one car and be told not to come back more than two car lengths.

Step one – You'll start some way from the target car. POM before moving away. Signal if necessary. Come out fairly sharp, so you have lots of time to work on getting parallel with the target car and then you can work on the distance between yourself and the other vehicle. Coming along side the car too wide will have big ramifications on the outcome and could also hinder the progress of on-coming traffic.

You'll need a good starting position, about the width of a steering wheel from the left flank of the car to the target vehicle. Position yourself so that your shoulder is in-line with the end of the target car's bonnet (See photo opposite for start position). You need to stop here, gently with straight wheels.

parallel parking

Step two - Hand brake to secure the car, then select reverse gear, take effective observations and whilst looking over your left shoulder, move the car backwards until the ends of the vehicle are level with one another. This is tricky to do due to pillars and panels, so use the end of their car appearing in the back left window to help you arrive at the correct point. See photo opposite.

reverse parking refernce points

Step three – Take a good, effective observation all around and up and down the street. You will slow everything down here as the car swings out, so it needs to be clear both ways. When you're ready to go, turn the wheel one turn to the left.

As the car moves out, get one quick blind spot check done. We're looking for other road users trying to squeeze past you at the last second. You then have time to check out the back, to make sure it's safe behind you before coming back too far.

(This next reference point varies with each driver, due to height and seating position). When the cars left door mirror tip/silver door handle lines up with the corner of the target vehicle, stop. Observe. You should be at a 45 degree angle from where you started. Once the car moves, turn the wheel twice to the right.

parallel parking tips

Step four - The car's bonnet will swing in, towards the pavement here. Keep the speed low. Be expecting the car to roll down the camber of the road as the wheels turn, becoming in line with the slope. Cover the foot brake.
Once the car is fully in, when you could mistake the car for being parallel with the kerb, quickly take the turn off to straighten up the wheels. That's once to the left.
When completed, stop, handbrake and put the car into neutral. You're done.

parallel parking reference points

When the car is the "wrong" way round

Parallel parking using a vehicle that is in the other orientation can be more difficult as starting in the same place can be tricky. Using the end of the target car could prove impossible as the sloping bonnet doesn't appear in the rear side window. Below are some tips on how to proceed with this variant on the manoeuvre.

Start position
This is critical, more so than any other reference point. It's so important to start in the same place every time, other wise all the other reference points are going to be different.
Try using this point in the photo opposite. Come back till your shoulder is level with where the driver in the target car would be sitting, if they were in the car.

door mirrors in parallel parking

Most cars are roughly the same size, around 4 meters in length. Some are shorter, some longer. If the car doesn't seem of average length, try using your left door mirror in coming back to the correct place. You're trying to get the ends of the cars level with each other. In the photo opposite you can just make out a little of the target vehicle in the far left of the mirror

reverse parking tips

When to turn
The reference points and points of turn are the same. Take note of the photo opposite. The corner of the car is often NOT the centre of the headlight. It's vital not to go too far here.

Plan B
If you do ever happen to go too far at this stage, where you add the two turns to the right and it feels like you're going to bump the pavement, there is a solution. You have an extra 1/2 turn in reserve. Just add all of it. This extra turn will help get you away from the pavement quicker, reducing the chance of hitting/bumping or mounting.

If you ever do bump the pavement, stay calm. It's just a minor. Apply the handbrake, turn the wheel full lock to the left whilst stationary, then move forward very slowly, make sure you're parallel before straightening.

Other road users - Again, never let anyone make you feel rushed, which is easier said than done. Try to remain calm. You really need to be looking a good long distance down the road, keeping an eye out for cars coming towards you. If you see one, stop and wait until you know what they are doing. If they stop, it's a good sign they are willing to let you complete the move. If they are still crawling towards you, wait until they make up their minds.

You only need to be stopping for cars you are making slow down or change direction for you. If you are getting out of their way, as in the final steps, then no need to stop for these cars. By continuing with parking you are reducing their need to change direction and speed for you, increasing the flow of traffic.

Things to look out for - The starting position is very important, get it right first time. The reference points I've listed above are a guide. It can be different for other drivers, especially step 3 depending on how tall you are and where your seat is.

Advanced parking - Not all cars are the same size/length. If you are asked to park using a bus, then you are going to have to change some reference points.

Large cars - Be aware, you will be starting wider from the kerb. You will need to allow the car move backwards a little more before applying full lock to the right in step 4. Try letting the corner of the vehicle vanish from the little gap between the door mirror and the pillar to get you closer to the kerb.

Small cars - Only tiny cars like the Ford Ka, or Nissan Micra do you have to consider this. The early stages are the sections you need to consider here. The start position here could vary. If you can not line up the end of their car, you should look to use the door mirror to asses where the ends of the car are.

The kerb - Bumping the kerb is not a fail, mounting it is. So if you feel the kerb whilst going backwards, stop and sort it out. This usually happens at the stage where you're going backwards into the gap right at the end. If this occurs, stop, handbrake, first gear, dry steer lots to the left, set the gas, find the bite, release the handbrake and edge forward until the car is almost parallel with the kerb. Once you are almost straight, get the wheels straight then stop. Handbrake and neutral to finish.

Signals - Before moving off, make sure you aren't going to pull out in-front of someone then make them stop for you. If however, you are at position one and cars are coming from the front and then can't get past, you have to let them know you are trying to park and that you haven't broken down. Simply by putting on your left signal will inform them that you are parking. Your reversing lights let those behind you know what you are doing.

parallel parking explained