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Myths, Tips and Facts for the Reverse Manoeuvres

 In Driving Lessons, Driving Test, Road Safety

Myths, tips and facts for the reverse manoeuvres but especially for the parallel park

There are many myths and worries concerning the reverse parking manoeuvres on the driving test but here I hope to dispel them and indeed give you some methods and tips to best park, not only for your test but in the real world.

The biggest myth on all the parking manoeuvres on your test is you have to be perfect 1st time every time. This simply is NOT true. When was the last time you saw someone parking who had to straighten up or realign in some way? Did they cause an accident or force other road users to take evasive action? Probably not. So why do you think your driving test is any different. The examiner, like my example in the real world, is totally focused on whether you did a safe and legal manoeuvre under control.

So what determines a safe and legal manoeuvre?

Safe is defined as being effectively observed. This means that sufficient checks are made to complete the park. Are you checking your blind spots? Have you stopped the car if someone is trying to drive around you? The only way they know you have seen them is if you stop moving. It is their right of way to carry out their normal course of business so you need to show them consideration. What would happen for example if you pulled forward slightly to correct a manoeuvre if they were in the process of overtaking you? A legal parallel park would be for example not going up the kerb. The kerb is for pedestrians and not for cars. According to the highway code you should only mount a kerb to enter a property so doing so on your test whilst parallel parking is against this code.

So what does under control mean?

Under control is showing you have full control of the speed and steering of the car. Don’t let the car go too fast and slam into the kerb for example. Don’t let go of the steering wheel either, yes the wheel will straighten itself if you let go but are you controlling this if you do? What if you hit a drain for example, where would the car go if you were not holding the wheel?

So how can we do a safe parallel park? I’m going to list below three foolproof methods to do this. All of these methods rely on a good starting position which I will outline below:

Firstly before starting the manoeuvre on the driving test the examiner will ask you to pull over approximately two car lengths from the target vehicle on the left (it’s always going to be on the left). He will ask you to treat all dropped kerbs as raised so don’t worry about pulling up alongside a driveway on this occasion. One you have done this he will ask you to carry out the manoeuvre (examiners often call this the reverse manoeuvre but it will always be the parallel park if you are in this position).

When you pull off do not signal (there should be nothing around) and slowly manoeuvre yourself around the parked car giving it good clearance making sure you finish parallel to the car. Where you finish is not that important but make sure at least a part of the car is level with the target vehicle. You should aim to be around a doors width away from it. Once stopped you should immediately put the car in reverse (to put your white reverse lights on).

For all the methods below the same staring position should be taken up.

Method 1 – The triangle method.

To start you need to look around the car before moving backward. Is it safe to proceed? Reverse back slowly until your wing mirror is in line with their wing mirror in line of sight (if the car is facing the wrong way then align your wing mirror to his front door handle). Once there keep the car moving and steer one full steer (not full lock) to the left. Allow the car to move backwards now looking in your left mirror at the road. A triangle of road will be in this mirror and it will be slowly disappearing. Once this triangle of road disappears you need to steer to the right (full lock) keeping the car moving. Try to maintain a constant speed and take into consideration the camber of the road here as a steep camber will make the car speed up. The car will now start to come around and once straight please straighten the wheel and proceed backwards until you have sufficient gap to be able to move off again. You can’t go back further than the two car lengths you started from. Perfect parallel park!

Method 2 – The one, two, one method.

Starting in the same position reverse back to where the wing mirrors align (see above). At this point steer one steer to the left. Allow the car to come around so that the front of your car is level with the rear of their car. At this point steer two full steers to the right. Keep the car at a constant speed! Once the car has come round to the straight position steer one full steer back to the left. If the car is a little close to the kerb you can always continue to steer to full lock here. Keep reversing until you can safely move off again. Perfect parallel park!

Method 3 – The 45 degree method.

Adopting the same starting position again reverse back to the same mirror to mirror point. If you go back beyond this point on this method don’t worry about it (and indeed I advise you to do this on test as this gives better clearance from the target vehicle. Once you have passed this point steer full lock to the left. The car will come around and you need to get this to a 45 degree angle from your starting position. At this point you need to straighten the wheel. Reverse back in a straight line here until your rear wheel is approximately a foot from the curb (you can look into the left mirror here and it will appear that the back of your car is about to touch the kerb. At this point steer full lock to the right. The car will now come around and when straight just straighten up. Perfect parallel park!

Which ever method you choose keep control of the speed of the car and make sure you are doing effective observations ie STOP if cars or bikes etc around you are coming to make sure you are not interfering with their normal course.

If the manoeuvre goes wrong (which it shouldn’t if you keep calm) then you are allowed to correct it as long as the correction is well observed.

Hope this helps. Remember practice makes perfect.

Happy parking!

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