Driving test manoeuvres: how to reverse into a parking bay

One of the manoeuvres that you might be asked to perform on your driving test is to reverse into a parking bay.

If you’re asked to do this exercise, it’ll be at the start or end of the test, in the test centre’s car park – so if there’s no car park, you’re unlikely to be asked to perform the manoeuvre.

The only exception to this is if your driving route takes you past a nearby test centre that does have a car park; your instructor should be able to tell you if this is a possibility. 

Your task is to slide the car smoothly into the space without crossing the white lines either side

How it works

If you’re asked to reverse into a parking bay, you can usually choose whether to go in from the right or the left. Whatever you do, the examiner will be expecting you to drive smoothly and safely at all times, retaining control through the correct use of the clutch, brakes, accelerator and steering.

Your task is to slide the car smoothly into the space without crossing the white lines either side, all the time ensuring that you’re aware of other road users and vehicles around you. Start by indicating if necessary, before coming to a halt just past the bay, then weigh up where the lines are and how big the space is.

As with any manoeuvre, the key is to keep your speed down so you’ve got plenty of time to think, observe and keep the car on the right path. With this in mind, using your mirrors and having looked at the bay’s position, select reverse gear and slowly reverse into the bay, making sure you don’t force yourself into turning too tightly.

Dip your passenger side mirror if it helps you line the car up correctly; if you end up over the white line you’ll fail. If you do dip your mirror, don’t focus on it too much so you lose any awareness of what’s going on around you – and also don’t forget to move it back to the correct position after you’ve parked the car.

Once you’re in the bay you can’t drive out again to line everything up, so if you’re not confident that you’ll end up within the markings, do any shuffling before you’ve entered the bay. Also remember at all times to keep checking for other road users as you make your manoeuvre.