Reverse parking made easy
The reverse park is the one part of the driving test guaranteed to make you nervous.
Even when you’ve got your Ps, reverse parking can be a sweaty-palmed trial. No-one likes the feeling of trying to squeeze into a gap between two cars while cranky motorists bank up behind you.
Here are some simple tips to avoid a dose of the reverse parking heebie-jeebies.
Put it in perspective
Reverse parking isn’t the biggest test of your driving ability.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the best reverse parker in the world, if you speed, forget to indicate and can’t pick a safe gap in the traffic, you’re never going to get your Ps.
The reverse park is one of the manoeuvres you’re expected to do when you go for your red Ps – the dreaded Driving Test.
This is probably why reverse parking has such a reputation – because you have to perform it under pressure.
But the reverse park is only one part of the Driving Test – even if you don’t do it perfectly, you can still pass the test (unless you do something like drive up the kerb or hit a car!).
The best advice from Roads and Maritime Services (replacing Roads and Traffic Authority) testing officers is to practise a lot before the test and then, on the day, keep it in perspective, stay calm and don’t panic if it doesn’t go well.
The same advice works on the road: stay calm and if it doesn’t work, well there’s always another parking space somewhere.
The step-by-step guide
Experienced Trent driving instructor John Huggett says the best way to nail the reverse park is to attack it in some bites.
“Break it down into steps and follow a procedure in an unhurried manner until it becomes a simple task,” he says. “And it can be a simple task!”
Here’s John’s step-by-step guide:
- Indicate left, check your left blind spot and pull up alongside the car you are parking behind (you can keep your indicator on throughout the manoeuvre).
- Stop your car about one metre away from the other car and with the external rear vision mirrors of each car opposite each other – they are even.
- Select reverse gear, check your mirrors and right blind spot and then very slowly reverse until the end of the other car is visible in the middle of your back door window.
- Reversing slowly, steer left until your vehicle points at a 45 degree angle to the kerb. At that point, steer quickly right to straighten your front wheels so that your vehicle reverses in a straight line. Do this very slowly.
- A final turning point is then needed and this varies from car to car. Some trial and error is needed so try a couple of different points. Sometimes the rear right corner of the vehicle being reversed behind becomes visible in the middle of the passenger window in your car and you then steer quickly right to ease your vehicle into the chosen spot.
- Then inch forward and straighten the front wheels of you car.
The final turning point may need a little careful trial and error, but once that point is established it never needs to be changed.
John says that you should do everything slowly to allow sufficient time to use each of the turning points exactly.
“After you get it right, the reverse park procedure can become easier,” John says.
“There is no point in trying to learn reverse parking between two cars. Learn it behind one car, and then when it becomes easier, try parking between two cars.”
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