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Manoeuvres – Teaching Parking Bays

May 20, 20143 Comments

Following on from last week’s blog about teaching manoeuvres, Blaine talks about teaching our pupils how to reverse into a parking bay but ensuring we get their speed and steering consistent before introducing reference points.

More videos showing Blaine teaching real learners can be found at

As always, please ask questions and leave your comments in the box at the bottom.

Video Transcript

Welcome to this week’s blog which is following on from last week’s blog about manoeuvres and thinking about them in a slightly different way.

As I mentioned, when I teach manoeuvres I tend to start with reversing into a bay. I am not looking at reversing into a bay with respect of getting in between the lines but I am looking at getting their coordination and their steering correct. In my experience when someone manoeuvres, particularly into a bay, is having a good controlled environment so you are not going to hold anyone up, the pupil is inconsistent with their speed and steering. So on one occasion the pupil will go a bit faster and on another they may steer slower or more quickly than on the previous occasion.

There are lots of different methods of reverse parking but the most common is a 90° method and using a white line maybe through the door or even out of the side and back windows depending on the vision in your vehicle. You can use these methods but they only if the pupil is consistent with their steering. So if you get a reference point and they go at a certain speed and steer at a certain speed then that is fine, it works and the car goes into the bay. If they go faster next time they will end up further to the right if you are doing a reverse from the left, for example. If their speed is slower they are going to end up more to the left. If their steering is faster they will end up more to the left and more to the right if steering is slower.

So basically, you can see there are lots of variables there and I wouldn’t start with getting a reference point then trying to get into the bay. The first thing I would do is stop the car roughly where is should be so we have got something tangible and I would get them to do the same reverse three or four times. So obviously with the observations and looking around I would get them to concentrate on the moving and steering. Basically, if we get them to start in the same place each time we will hopefully finish in the same place each time regardless of whether it is in the bay or not. Getting their steering and speed consistent we can then adjust a reference point to fit. What a lot of people tend to do is not get the steering and speed consistent and then keep moving the reference point. This could take you all day to teach and your pupil could lose confidence in manoeuvring in general.

Reversing into a parking bay, the consistence of the speed of the car and the steering are crucial.

Tips to achieve this would be to get your pupil to go as slowly as possible – as slow as they can then steer as quickly as they can. It is then much easier to change the reference point than it is to try and change the speed, clutch control and speed of steering.

People have a natural speed of clutch control that suits them. Some people do it really quickly and some really slowly. As long as it is not too quick I wouldn’t try to get every learner the same and not every learner is going to have a reference point. This differs a lot between pupils, particularly with this manoeuvre.

Get your pupil driving at their natural slow speed, their natural steering and again I have found it hard to get pupils to steer quickly if they naturally do not steer quickly as it is inconsistent. It is also difficult to get them to steer at half the speed as that is not consistent either. So – as slow as they can with the car and as fast as they can with their natural ability and then move the reference point to fit those and you should end up with consistency.

If anything, you always want to aim to be slightly too far forward if you are doing a left or right reverse as you can always take a turn off. If you use a full lock method you can take half a turn off.

At 45° with the car stationary if you like, get them to look in the mirror and judge if the back wheel is going into the bay. It may not be in the bay at this point but if it is edging its way into the bay then that is fine and at this point they can always take some steering off. If they are too far back you cannot add any steering because you have used the full lock method. So it is always better to be a little bit nearer the line on the left if you are doing the manoeuvre from the left when you use the full lock method. Also be a good metre and a half to two metres away from the lines then you don’t cut across the corner of the bay.

I tend to start this with no other vehicles in surrounding bays and then later on I will do this with other vehicles already parked in surrounding bays. It is easier with vehicles around them but on the driving test it tends to be bays without surrounding vehicles.

Hopefully this helps.


Filed in: Teaching Manoeuvres

About the Author ()

Blaine Walsh is the owner of, has been a driving instructor trainer for 15 years and a driving instructor for over 20 years. When he first qualified Blaine admits his was not a very good instructor, became disillusioned, was not retaining pupils and not making any money, so he quit full time teaching. After spending time self-reflecting, he had a light bulb moment and realised that he needed to put more explanation, effort and enthusiasm into teaching learners. Since then he has not looked back and is now regarded as one of the top trainers in the country.
  • Laurence Jacquemin

    I also normally start off pupils doing bay parks when starting reversing, like you say nothing to get in the way such as other cars or kerbs, so if they do struggle with the clutch control and go too fast then it is not a problem.

    I try to get my pupils to judge when the back of the car is in relation to the lines, but often they get confused about what line they are seeing, i.e. is it the one they are aiming for or is it the line of the next bay along. Any thoughts on this?

    • ditvadmin

      Hi Laurence

      I would get out of the car and ask them to stand on the line that is going to be on the left so they can pick this up in the side window. Some instructors carry a cone in the boot which you can put on the line. Or you could put the cone in the middle of the bay at the back so the pupil has somewhere to aim the middle of the back of the car at.


      • Laurence Jacquemin

        Thanks Blaine, they normally do find out where the line is in the rear passenger window, most seem to prefer using the line there rather than the 3rd line in the front passengers window. Never though of using a cone though! Will have to see where I can get a cone from, perhaps from a sports shop?

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