How to reverse into a parking bay

How to Reverse Bay Park

Objectives: You should be able to identify a safe and legal place to carry out the bay park.
You should be able to reverse into a parking bay from the left or the right and end up between the two lines and fully in the bay.
You must complete the manoeuvre under control and with due regard and safety for other road users.

Make sure it’s safe and legal

Look for a space where it’s easy to get in and out of your car. Avoid tight gaps – unless you don’t mind people opening their car door and hitting yours. Avoid disabled bays/private parking unless you have a permit.

Initial approach

Once you have identified a potential parking space, apply the MSPSL routine early so vehicles around you can grasp an idea of what you are about to do. Look at the diagram, try to leave as much space as you can between your car and the parking bays.

bay park tutorial

Start Position 

Look at the diagram, try to leave as much space as you can between your car and the parking bays. See points 1-3 on diagram.

The Routine

Continue to reverse back until fully in the bay. Once handbrake is on, you can open your door to double check your position. Remember to continuously observe in all directions on the manoeuvre. See observations. Reverse back to point 4 on diagram. Accuracy is important so in a hatchback vehicle you will need to line up the passenger door handle with a white line and then stop. This is your point of turn. As you improve, it may not be necessary to stop to judge the turn. Start to move the vehicle backwards again and turn the steering wheel full lock to the left as quickly as you can. Your car will start to approach the 3rd bay along – see diagram. Just as your car starts to come round, you can use your door mirrors to see if you are in between the two white lines. Once you see it’s even on both sides quickly straighten your steering wheel.


Before you start the manoeuvre – 360 observation. When reversing backwards look over the left shoulder and all around you for updates on anything approaching. Pedestrians may be walking near your vehicle or cars approaching. Remember, it’s not your priority so you will need to stop if they are close by and let them pass before you start moving again. Before you turn the wheel full lock left, make sure you do a full 360 observation and ensure it’s safe as the front of your car will swing out.


The gap between you and the white lines should be even. Avoid cutting across the lines to get into your bay. On your driving test it is likely you will just have the lines to reverse between, however the examiner will want you to demonstrate how you would control the vehicle if there were parked cars in the bays next to you. Cutting across another bay could result in a serious fault on your driving test.


If you think you are going to cut across another bay, then stop before you actually do it and take a shunt. Always look all around you before taking a shunt. When you take a shunt, it’s best to go forwards quite a lot so you have lots of space to adjust your car when you start reversing again.

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

When reversing back into the bay, sometimes it helps to look to your left and right of your car and use other parked cars to judge how far back you need to reverse.

Step by step guide to Bay Parking

Scenario for your test:

You have a one in four chance of having to do the bay park manoeuvre and you will either have to do it at the beginning or at the end. The manoeuvre will never take place in the middle of the test.

The examiner will say the following when you are in the test centre. “I would like you to drive out to the left or right and stop with your vehicle positioned straight, not at an angle. Then I would like you to reverse back into any one of the bays doing it with due regard and safety for other road users”.

The technique we will be teaching you here is to turn full lock when the door handle is in line with the white line, full advice to follow further on.

1. Lets assume you’re in a parking bay, ready to drive out forwards. Lets talk you through how to reverse back in to a bay.

2. Prepare your car so you are in reverse and have the car’s biting point.

3. Once you are ready, do a full 360 observation before moving backwards. Start with your left shoulder first and finish on your right shoulder. Only if its clear, then release the handbrake. No signal is required to move out. If there is anyone around your vehicle that may be affected – you must wait, until its safe.

4. If you have had to wait then you will need to re-set your observations before moving out. Something may have changed in the time you were waiting.

5. If its all clear, release your handbrake and move out straight initially. If you pull the wheel straight away, you may cross another bay. If a vehicle is in that bay then obviously that’s more dangerous, so stick to reversing straight first for 1-2 meters and you’ll be safe every time.

6. Once you have moved out 1-2 metres then start pulling the wheel to the left. You will need to straighten up shortly. Only start straightening (turning the wheel to the right) once you think you are 1-2 cars away from the Bay. This will vary depending on the available space in the car park. Positioning further away from the bay is better than being too close. If you’re too close, then when you go back there is hardly any space to adjust if the technique doesn’t fully go to plan.

8. Lets assume you have stopped, with your wheels straight and a good distance from the Bays.

9. Now put it into reverse and use the handbrake if necessary. You won’t need a signal at this point.

10. Look all around you, this time from the right shoulder to the left shoulder and then start moving back slowly if its safe. When you are moving back, ensure you are looking over your left shoulder and keep scanning for other road users.

11. You will need to glance at your passenger door handle and when you see that’s in line with one of the white lines just stop gently and pause. This is your point of turn. When you get better, you may not need to stop.

12. It’s very important to look all around you now before you turn the wheels Full lock to the left. By stopping this gives you time to make effective observations.

13. Let’s assume its clear, make sure the vehicle is moving slowly and then turn the steering wheel full lock to the left. As quickly as you can and avoid dry steering.

14. Keep the full lock on, as you’re going backwards glance in both door mirrors. Shortly you should see a white line in your left door mirror and a white line in your right door mirror. When you see them both, they should look parallel. Stop at this point. If you are happy it’s even both sides then straighten your wheels to the right. Avoid going full lock to the right. You want to straighten enough so the wheels are straight. On most cars it’s one and half turns to the right to straighten.

15. Assuming your wheels are now straight and your in between the white lines reverse back slowly looking over the left shoulder. Keep scanning all around you too, so basically don’t keep your head in one position for too long. It’s areas like parking bays where children are not easily seen, so observations in all directions is imperative.

16. It can be quite tricky judging when to stop, when you are going back into the bay. Here’s a few tricks that may help you. Firstly, see if there are any cars to the left or right of you. Looking at their back end can help you judge when to stop just by glancing to the side. Secondly, try looking over your left shoulder and look for posts, trees or walls. Thirdly, glance in both your door mirrors and see if you can see the kerb behind you, this often helps. Worst scenario, stop, pull the handbrake up, take it out of gear and open the door and look behind you.

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