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Reverse parking takes advantage of a car's manoeuvrability when driving in reverse gear. It is used if there is limited parking available at the side of the road and it becomes necessary to reverse into a space between two cars. When doing this you will be something of an obstacle, so continuous use of the mirror-signal-manoeuvre routine and all round observation is important. It is also vital to keep a look-out for passing traffic.

You must always be careful to select the site for the manoeuvre with care.

IS IT LAWFUL? – i.e. you cannot park where there are parking restrictions.

IS IT SAFE? – i.e. It would not be safe to reverse into a space where pedestrians are playing or waiting to cross the road.

IS IT CONVENIENT? – If the road is especially busy then it may cause great inconvenience to other road users.

CAN I DO IT? There are some spaces that are so narrow that it would be impractical to try out the manoeuvre. When you park between two vehicles you will need a space that is at least one and a half to two times the length of your vehicle. Even though the site meets with these requirements, you should make sure that there are no trees or other obstructions over-hanging the space which could cause problems when you are reversing.

As you pass the space you are going to reverse into have a good look for anything that will get in the way or be a potential danger. If you have any approaching traffic then you must consider the use of the left hand signal prior to pulling up. You should position parallel to the car, about one metre from it and stop so that your car is slightly ahead of the car you are parking on.

If you find it uncomfortable reversing you can take your seat belt off.

Once stopped select reverse gear promptly and apply the handbrake if necessary, prepare the car by finding the biting point. Selecting reverse gear causes a white light to show at the rear of the car and this warns traffic of your intentions. When you are ready take all round observation, check blind spots and look behind. If it is clear of traffic and pedestrians release the handbrake and move slowly backwards. Keep looking out of the back window. If any vehicles are approaching from behind you should stop and let them pass, also watch out for any pedestrians. Throughout the exercise you must keep the car moving slowly using tight clutch control.

As the back of your car reaches the back of the other car you are ready to start steering, turn the wheel to full lock towards the kerb this will start the rear of your car moving into the space. As you turn the front of your car will swing out so you must be sure that you will not swing into the path of any other vehicles. If necessary you should stop at this point and wait for any other vehicles to pass. Also remember to watch for any pedestrians and give way to them if necessary. When your car reaches a 40 degree angle straighten the wheel so the angle stays at 40, you are now heading towards the kerb, when you think your back wheel is nearing the kerb steer right to bring the front of your car into the space. When the car is nearly straight steer left to be parallel with the kerb. Try to ensure that you go no further than 1½ to 2 'car lengths' behind the car in front. You can see if the car is straight by looking at the car ahead but remember not to get too close to the rear vehicle. When you have stopped put the handbrake on and select neutral.

The Driving Test

The examiner on the driving test will expect you to:-

  • Reverse into a space of about two car lengths.
  • Park your car at the kerb safely, smoothly and under control.
  • Take all–round observation.
  • Not get too close to the parked car.
  • Avoid mounting the kerb.
  • Stop reasonably close to the kerb.