Reverse parking into a bay
Reverse bay parking is a manoeuvre you may be asked to perform on your driving test. Here’s how to reverse bay park like a boss.
Reverse bay parking is a really handy skill to have when jostling for space in a busy car park.
It’s also one of the manoeuvres which may pop up on your driving test, so it’s worth knowing how to 90° reverse park so well you could do it in your sleep. And here’s how.
Is it better to reverse into a parking bay?
Reversing into a parking bay is generally preferable to driving into one forwards, even though you might not immediately think so. This is in part because your car is actually more manoeuvrable in reverse.
It’s also better to reverse into a bay because it’s safer to drive out of a space facing forwards. Reversing out of a space into traffic is far more daunting than going head-first.
How do I reverse bay park for my driving test?
Being asked to reverse park usually happens at the very beginning or end of your driving test. The examiner will guide you into a car park, and ask you to reverse the car into a convenient space, finishing between the lines.
You get to choose which space to reverse into, so take your time to choose a bay you feel comfortable tackling. Let’s assume you choose one to your left.
The most reliable method for learner drivers is known as the 90° method. This requires you to stop after the bay in the middle of the road. You want to leave enough room to be able to fully swing the car around.
Bear in mind that cars can have small differences, and reference points used may vary slightly. Your driving instructor will fill you in on this. They may even leave markers on the rear windscreen as a reference point so you know when to turn. But despite small variations, the principles should remain the same.
Don’t forget to check your mirrors and signal before performing any manoeuvre. Check for danger, indicate, then come to a full halt three spaces after the one you’d like to reverse into, level with the third bay.
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.
When the next bay line draws level with your shoulder, quickly turn the wheel left to full lock, but keep the reversing slow. You then use your wing mirrors to ensure 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.
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?
If you want to park in a bay on the right, you do exactly the same, 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.
And we’re done?
Yes, we are. As with all manoeuvres, don’t expect to master it first time. Even experienced drivers make the odd mistake. But as long as you’re aware of any hazards, and stop and wait if you think you might be in any trouble, you’ll be absolutely fine. Good luck!
You can find out more about what’s actually in the driving test here.