Parallel parking

Parallel parking – a how-to-do-it guide

Parallel parking 1Parallel parking (reversing into a parking space behind a parked car) is not difficult…honestly!

The step by step instructions below explain exactly how to do it safely. There is also a very good video that shows exactly how to parallel park at the end of this article.

Parallel parking (or reverse parking as it’s sometimes known) takes advantage of a car’s manoeuverability when driving in reverse gear.

When doing this you might get in the way of other road users, so good all round observations are vital.

If you do this manoeuver on your driving test, the examiner will expect you to:

  • Reverse into a space behind a parked car;
  • Park your car at the kerb safely, smoothly and under control;
  • Finish no more than two car lengths behind the ‘target’ vehicle.

The examiner will also be looking to see that you:

  • Take all-round observation;
  • Do not get too close to the parked car;
  • Do not mount the kerb;
  • Stop reasonably close to the kerb.

Parallel parking 2

1. Drive forward slowly and stop parallel to and about one metre away from the car you’re parking behind (the target vehicle). Select reverse gear. That puts your reversing lights on and should help any approaching vehicles know what you’re about to do. Look to check it’s O.K. to move off. Your last observation should be in the direction the car is moving, i.e., through your rear window.

2. Drive back very slowly and watch for the rear of the target vehicle (see image left) to appear halfway along your nearside rear window. Then stop. If the target vehicle is facing towards you, wait until the bonnet of the vehicle just about disappears from view.

3. Check all round the car. If it’s safe, steer one turn to the left as you start to reverse again. Keep the car very slow! The car will begin to swing in towards the kerb.

4. When your car gets to the 2 o’clock position (straight ahead is 12 o’clock) steer one turn right.

The car is now going straight back towards the kerb.

Again, keep the car very slow, especially if you are reversing down a slope.

Parallel parking reference points

4. Now look for a triangle in your near side mirror.

Just before the road disappears out of the triangle, (image B), or the passenger door handle overhangs the kerb, steer one turn right .

Very slow now…!

5. Keep good, all round observations going (you must not reverse towards a pedestrian or a moving vehicle that’s near the car) but also watch your near side mirror. Just before the side of the car is parallel with the kerb, it’s one turn left.

If you need to correct your position you are allowed to shunt forward and back once to get it right.

The most important part of this exercise (as with all the reversing manoeuvers) is good observations. The examiner may forgive you if you touch the kerb while reversing but if you don’t make sure it’s safe to carry out the exercise…he or she will not be impressed!