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Driving test manoeuvres

As part of the practical driving test, you’ll be asked to perform an exercise which involves reversing. Here we’ll find out what they are, and how to nail them.

Sean O'Neill

Driving test manoeuvres 

The practical driving test will feature an exercise involving reversing, and these exercises are commonly referred to as driving test manoeuvres.

The exercises are:

  •     Parallel parking at the side of the road.
  •     Parking in a parking bay – where you’ll either reverse in or reverse out.
  •     Pulling over on the right-hand side of the road, reversing two car lengths, then rejoining traffic.

 You won’t know which you’ll have to do until asked. There’s a one-in-three chance it’ll be any of the manoeuvres above, so it’s worth knowing how to ace them all.

How do I parallel park?

Parallel parking involves parking at the side of the road, usually in a line of parked vehicles. The goal is to get as tight to the kerb as you can, and in line with it (in other words, parallel to it).

We’ve got a handy guide to parallel parking here, which tells you everything you need to know.

How do I park in a parking bay?

There’s a one-in-three chance you’ll be asked to park in a parking bay, usually in a spot such as a supermarket car park. It’s fifty-fifty as to whether you’ll be asked to reverse in and drive out, or drive in forwards and reverse out. For our money, it’s a bit easier to reverse in, because your vision is likely to be obscured when you’re reversing out.

Check out our guide to reverse bay parking here.

How do I pull over on the right and reverse?

This is a three-step manoeuvre, and your examiner will be looking to see you’ve checked all the right boxes. Most importantly, you’ll have to perform the exercise safely, with good all-round observations at each stage.

Step one: Pulling over on the right

First of all, you’ll have to choose a suitable spot. When your examiner asks you to perform the exercise, you’re in no rush, so take your time to pick a decent spot. You’re looking for a space which is nice and safe, with loads of space.

Make sure you avoid pulling over anywhere where there’s parking restrictions. It should be somewhere where it’s legal to park, so steer clear of double yellow lines, bus stops, driveways or access routes.

It’s also best to avoid junctions or bends. Try not to pick a space where you might reduce other road users’ visibility.

When you’ve chosen a spot with plenty of space, go through your MSPSL routine, and signal right. Give way to oncoming traffic, and check your mirrors and blind spot before pulling over. Approach the opposite side of the road at a shallow angle, and straighten up as close to the kerb as you can. Try to get within 30cm of the curb.

When you’ve stopped, pull up the handbrake, and put the car in neutral.

Step two: Reverse two car lengths

After you’ve stopped, the examiner will ask you to reverse roughly two car lengths. If you’ve stopped parallel to the curb, this will make your life a lot easier.

Put the car into reverse gear, and wait for any oncoming traffic to pass. When it’s clear, make observations all around the car. When you’re sure it’s safe, start to reverse slowly. You’ll mainly be looking through the back window, keeping an eye out for pedestrians or other road users. If you need to stop to let someone pass, make sure you do your all-around observation again before you carry on.

Reverse slowly and steadily, keeping the car straight to the curb. The examiner will be looking to see that you’re in control of the vehicle, so be careful but confident. Once you’ve reversed roughly two car lengths, stop, apply the handbrake and pop the car in neutral.

Step three: Rejoin traffic

After you’ve stopped, the examiner will ask you to move off, rejoining traffic on the left-hand side of the road. Again, all-around observations are crucial here, so apply your MSPSL routine. Check all your mirrors, and don’t forget your blind spot.

When you’re sure it’s safe, and there’s no oncoming traffic, indicate left. Then move off into the left-hand lane, and continue to drive as you normally would.

Throughout this manoeuvre, you need to demonstrate awareness of your surroundings, control of the vehicle, and accuracy in your positioning. As long as you’re aware and courteous to other road users, and perform the exercise safely, you’ll be fine.

Will I have to reverse around a corner?

Reversing around a corner is no longer in the driving test and hasn’t been since December 2017. So, we can say with some confidence that you won’t be asked to do this on your practical test.

That said, your driving instructor may well teach you how to do it. It’s a useful skill to master and pops up occasionally in day-to-day driving. You may find it useful when changing course, for example, or reversing into a driveway.

Will I have to do a three-point turn?

Again, the turn in the road manoeuvre (or three-point turn to its friends) hasn’t featured in the driving test since 2017. So, you definitely won’t be asked to do it.

But it’s quite a common manoeuvre in everyday driving and is often the easiest way to turn the car round to face in the opposite direction. For this reason, it’s well worth asking your driving instructor how to do it, or they may suggest it anyway.

What other driving test manoeuvres are there?

Not a manoeuvre exactly, but there’s also a one-in-three chance you’ll be asked to perform an emergency stop on your test. This forms part of the general driving ability section of the test[1], so you may be asked to do it in addition to a reversing exercise – not instead of.

You can find out what to expect on your driving test day here, including how to prepare, and what to bring.

If you aren’t super confident doing these manoeuvres then it would be worth purchasing some of Veygo’s learner driver insurance. Purchasing this can give you all the time you need to get out there and practice! 

Sean O'Neill
Sean O'Neill

Having studied English literature in university I now work within motor insurance and work closely with data teams to understand market trends in short-term car insurance and hot topics that might be helpful to car drivers out there. I'm currently learning to drive and taking driving lessons to get out on the road by myself soon!

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