How do I Parallel Park?

Objectives: You should be able to identify a safe and legal place to carry out the parallel park. You should be able to park close to and parallel with the kerb by reversing into a space of between one and a half and twice the length of the training vehicle. The manoeuvre should be completed under control, with due regard for the safety of other road users.

Parallel Park Guidelines

Make sure it’s safe and legal

Try to avoid blocking driveways, parking too close to a junction or on double yellow lines. There’s more, so check the highway code

Initial approach

Apply the MSPSL routine, remember if there is a car behind you, slow down gradually so you don’t surprise them.

Start Position

You should be roughly an open car door away from the parked car and your boot should look level with their boot. Look at diagram.

The routine, using focal points

There are many techniques, this one works well. Left Right, Right, Left. Full turns only. Your instructor may change the technique slightly to suit his vehicle.

Turn Left when boots are in line or level with car

Turn Right when you see a 45 degree angle in your door mirror/ slice of pizza.

Reverse back for a short time until the kerb disappears in your left door mirror. Now turn Right again.

The front end of the car will begin to swing in, once it looks parallel or directly behind the car in front of you then straighten the wheels, so turn Left to finish. Your instructor may adjust the focal points slightly depending on the car you are learning in.

Parallel park how-to


Before you start the manoeuvre – 360 observation. When reversing backwards, look over the left shoulder and mainly glance ahead for updates for approaching cars and remember to look over your right shoulder at least twice – more if necessary. A good time to check your right shoulder is on both occasions you turn the steering wheel to the right.


Remember you do not have priority, so if a vehicle is approaching, you may need to acknowledge it’s their priority by stopping, so they then feel it’s safe to pass you. Always stop for pedestrians walking near or around your car, only proceed when they have cleared the area.


No Waving: avoid waving other cars on or pedestrians to cross the road. Although you think it might be helping them, it could be misleading as someone else may not have seen you waving and an accident could happen. Also, the examiner could mark it as a serious or minor fault depending on the effect it has on others.

Try stopping before you turn: It will help at the beginning to stop and identify every time you should turn the wheel. If you are accurate then the routine will work virtually every time.

Don’t go up the kerb: take a shunt, if you think you’re going to bump the kerb. A shunt is when you put the car into 1st gear and move forwards to give you space to reverse backwards again and correct your position. Always look all around you before you move forwards and try to avoid going all the way back to the start position. It is OK to take a shunt on your driving test.

Step By Step Guide to Parallel Park

On your driving test the DSA driving examiner will get you to stop behind a Parked car and then say the following: “I would like you to drive up and next to the car in front. I would then like you to perform the parallel park manoeuvre, reversing in behind the parked car, finishing reasonably close to the kerb. Try to finish within 2 car lengths of the car in front”.

What to do:

1. Prepare the car and then look all around you starting from the left shoulder and finishing over the right shoulder. In total you should complete 6 checks. Also known as the 360 degree observation. You should only pull out if nobody is coming up and down the road.

2. Once you have moved out, just check your interior mirror early before pulling up next to the parked car. If there is someone behind you, then apply a signal and stop gently and smoothly next to the parked car. If there is nobody around, no signal is required.

3. Use the handbrake if necessary (if on a hill), put the gear lever into reverse and then cancel your signal if it is on. Your reverse light is on now, so vehicles behind should understand you are about to reverse.

4. Prepare the car again, with your clutch at the biting point, so you don’t roll in the wrong direction when you release the handbrake. Also consider if you have your clutch too high, as you may go flying back too fast.

5. Assuming you have prepared the car, look all around you starting from right to left. If safe, release the handbrake.

6. The moment the car moves back, turn the steering wheel one full turn left (when the boot of your car is in line or just after you have passed the back end of their car). Avoid dry steering too.

7. If you need to slow down slightly, just dip the clutch. Keep looking over your left shoulder.

8. Glance in your left door mirror but don’t stare. When you see an angle that looks like a slice of pizza then you need to glance over your right shoulder quickly and turn the steering wheel one full turn right. If you need to stop to look briefly, this is not a problem. Observations are imperative. In fact the examiners would prefer full observations and a not so pretty Manoeuvre compared to a perfect parallel park and poor observations.

9. Keep reversing back slowly, looking all around you especially over your left shoulder. Imagine there is a school right near you and the kids have just finished school, it’s like an ant’s nest at times – even if it’s quiet, you need to observe as if that school has just finished.

10. Shortly you will need to turn one full turn to the right again. The best time to turn right is when you see the Kerb just drop underneath the front part of your door handle. It will vary slightly depending on the type of car you are driving, but this will work 9 times out of 10 on most hatch back vehicles. You must turn the wheel quickly in order for this technique to work, but be careful of over steering and try to avoid dry steering.

11. The car should begin to swing into the space, keep the vehicle speed very slow and stop if there are any vehicles approaching still, as it isn’t your priority. So you will need to keep looking in all directions, so don’t miss anything.

12. Once the vehicle looks parallel with the kerb you will need to quickly straighten your wheels to the left. You may want to reverse back slightly more just to make sure the vehicle continues in a straight line parallel with the kerb.

13. Keep looking behind you when you are reversing. In real life there could be another car behind you or pedestrians walking behind or around your car.

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