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reverse parking into a bay
Simon Jones Guides Learner Drivers

Reverse parking into a bay

Do you struggle to get into a bay parking space? Here’s how to reverse bay park like a boss.

Simon Jones

In our opinion, reverse bay parking is one of the most important manoeuvres to master. Once you’ve nailed this one, you can confidently drive into any busy car park and get safely into a space. 

What is bay parking? 

Bay parking is a method for manoeuvring your car into a parking space. There are two types of bay parking:  

  • Reverse bay parking – this is where you reverse into a parking space and drive out 
  • Forward bay parking – you drive into a parking space and then reverse out  

How to reverse park? 

  1. Check for danger, indicate, then come to a full stop three spaces after the one you’d like to reverse into, level with the third bay (this is about 2 car lengths). 
  2. Put the car into reverse gear, check again for danger, and then start reversing slowly. You want to remain slow and steady but perform the steering quickly. 
  3. When the next bay line draws level with your shoulder, quickly turn the wheel to the left in full, but keep the reversing slow.  
  4. Use your wing mirrors to make sure you’re guiding the car within the bay lines. If a bay line appears in each of the mirrors on either side, you know you’re within the space. 
  5. Once the car’s straight – in other words, at 90° to the road – turn the steering wheel back to the right to straighten up. Then stop when the car is fully within the parking bay. 

How do I reverse bay park on the right? 

Reverse parking into a bay on the right is exactly the same as the left, but everything’s in the opposite direction. So, your first turn is a full lock to the right, then you turn the steering wheel to the left to straighten up. 

Is reverse bay parking in the driving test 2021? 

Reverse bay parking is 1 of 5 possible manoeuvres you could get asked to do in your driving test. You’ll be asked to reverse in and drive out of a parking bay.  

Find out what else you can expect on driving test day here   

How to reverse park for driving test? 

The examiner will ask you to reverse into any parking bay on the left or right, making sure you finish within the lines. Then they’ll ask you to drive out of the bay either to the left or right.  

Usually, you’ll be asked to reverse into a bay either at the very beginning or at the end of your driving test.  

Top tip: You get to choose which space to reverse into, so take your time and give yourself enough room to be able to fully swing the car roundIt’s usually easiest to get into a space that doesn’t have a car on either side. 

Things your examiner will be looking out for:  

  • Control – data from DVSA tells us that reverse park (control) has been in the top 10 reasons for failed driving tests every year between 2006 and 2020. So it’s really important to take it nice and slow and be gentle with the control pedals.  
  • Observations – a busy car park will be full of pedestrians dodging in and out of spaces. Show that you’re fully aware of what’s around you by checking your mirrors and blind spots. If anyone gets close to your car, stop and wait for them to move passed you.   
  • Accuracy – the examiner wants to see that you’ve got good judgement and you can get accurately between the lines.  

Not sure if you’re driving test ready? Find out if you’re ready for your driving test in 5 minutes or less.  

What is the reference point for reverse bay parking? 

The reference point tells you when you need to start turning your steering wheel. For most cars the reference point is when the third bay line draws level with your shoulder. Cars have small differences so your reference point may be slightly different. Make sure you know the reference point on the car you’re going to drive on test day.  

3 line rule bay parking 

The 3 line rule is the method of getting your car in line with the third bay in front of the parking bay you’re going to park in.  

  1. Pull up alongside the bay you want to park in 
  2. Make sure your car is about 1 metre distance away from the bay 
  3. Drive past your chosen bay and count three white lines past the bay (starting with the white line on the end of your chosen bay) 
  4. Stop when the third white line is level with your shoulder  

Should you indicate when reverse bay parking? 

Yes, before you reverse into a parking bay you should check your mirrors and blind spots and signal your intention to move with your indicators.  

Is it safer to reverse into a parking space? 

Reversing into a parking bay is generally considered safer than driving into one forward. This is mostly because you can get a clear view of the traffic when you’re driving out of the space. Also, cars are just more manoeuvrable in reverse. 

Park like a pro  

Reverse bay parking is one of those manoeuvres that’s a struggle to start with, that and parallel parking…we’ve got a guide on that too. But once you’ve got it nailed, reverse parking will become your go to. The most important things are to figure out your reference point, do your observations and take it nice and slow.

We know that reading a full article isn’t for everybody, so we also have some great instructional videos for you to check out!   

How to Reverse Park in a Bay - 90° Degrees - Learning to Drive 

If you’re learning to drive and can’t get your head around reversing into a bay, you might find it helpful to do some practice outside of your lessons. Just make sure you’re insured first. With our learner driver insurance, you can practice in a friend or family member’s car from 2 hours right up to 180 days. You could offer to drive when your parents are nipping out on essential shopping trips to get driving test ready.   

Simon Jones

Worked for short-term car insurance provider Veygo for over 3 years. Been involved in building insurance products for learner drivers and people looking for temporary cover on cars, then telling the world about them through marketing campaigns. Also drive a bit myself, mainly my son around where ever he needs to go.

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