Driving test manoeuvres: how to parallel park

If you’re going to take advantage of on-street parking spaces you’ll need to get the hang of parallel parking, which is why you might be asked to demonstrate your abilities during your test.

Parallel parking is pretty straightforward, but some drivers get flustered because of passing traffic, the worry of scraping one of the cars you’re parking between, or because of that nasty kerb that’s just sitting there waiting to jump out at you.

However, whereas in the real world you might have to slot into a space that’s not much bigger than your car, on your test your examiner is more likely to ask you to drive into a space that’s about twice the size of your car, so you should have plenty of room for manoeuvre.

Bearing this in mind, the examiner will be making sure that you remain aware at all times of other road users – especially passing traffic as the nose of your car swings out. You’ll also be expected to get close to the kerb without hitting it – and obviously you won’t score too highly if you hit either of the car’s you’re parking between. 

Your examiner islikely to ask you to drive into a space that’s about twice the size of your car

How it’s done

Stop parallel to, level with and not more than one metre away from the car you’re going to park behind. Select reverse gear, make sure it’s okay to start reversing then drive slowly backwards, watching for the corner of the other car appearing in your side window.

When you can see the rear corner of the other car through your side window, rotate your steering wheel to the left one full turn, then check all round to ensure there are no other cars or road users that have appeared since you began your manoeuvre. If it's safe, continue reversing until the nose of your car is level with the back of the car you’re parking behind.

Next turn the steering wheel fully to the right, watching to make sure that you clear the car you’re parking behind. As you turn the steering wheel the front of your car will swing in towards the kerb.

Because at this point you’ll be close to the kerb and the car in front, you need to keep your speed down as you start to straighten out the steering wheel, so the front of your car doesn’t swing in too far. Check your distance from the kerb and the car in front; the easiest way of checking your distance from the kerb may be by dipping your passenger side mirror.

Once you’re in the space you can move back and forth to line things up correctly, but don’t do this endlessly or the examiner will mark you down. Basically, as long as you’re not stuck out into the road and you’re not up the kerb, you should be fine.