How to Bay Park

Approximately 4 minutes reading time

There are four possible manoeuvres that the examiner could ask you to perform during a driving test. Bay parking is one of them. A lot of people struggle with this manoeuvre and fortunately not all driving centres have the parking bay facilities to perform this test. Don’t however assume that you won’t be taken to another test centre close by that does have parking bays and be faced with examination anyway.

A good driving instructor will provide you with an easy to recall set of instructions, plenty of guidance and a breakdown of bay parking reference points when teaching you this skill. There are no hard and fast rules to complete this manoeuvre but the driving examiner will be looking for three key factors.

These three factors are:

  • Accuracy: You will need to demonstrate that you can successfully park in a bay between the lines and not unnecessarily close to the cars in the adjacent bays.
  • Control: Demonstration of good clutch control, by maintaining and controlling the speed and efficient an effective steering.
  • Awareness: Awareness and continuous all-round observation through the manoeuvre.

Bay Parking Guide

While there are several methods that can be taught during the bay parking lesson the bay parking 3 line rule is probably the most common and the easiest to apply.

The procedure involves preparation, observation and moving to complete the manoeuvre. Remember you will be demonstrating that you know how to park between two cars.

    1. For the purpose of the test, position the vehicle in the middle of the road. Don’t worry about other traffic as this is a testing station. By positioning yourself in the middle of the road, you will be providing yourself with a wider turning circle, reducing the possibility of failure. This also makes observation easier and provides additional space to the correct yourself when the car swings out avoiding potentially hazardous obstacles such as a fence or the kerb. Always apply the handbrake if there is a slope. Put the car into reverse gear. This will illustrate to any other vehicles and pedestrians what your intentions are.


    1. Reverse the car to the point of turn. Always make clear observations of all your surroundings before starting to reverse, in case of pedestrians of other vehicles. When reversing ensure that you look in the direction that the vehicle is moving. Looking for the reference point that you have learned works best for you. Each car will have a different reference point and your instructor will have guided you with which one to use. Position your vehicle so that you can see the third line past the parking bay into which you want to reverse. This line will appear to run through the middle of your front passenger door.


    1. Start to reverse, looking through your rear windscreen and maintaining your observation of all spaces surrounding the vehicle. As you prepare to move, make a full left lock of your steering wheel, remembering to move at the speed of a slow walk, maintaining consistency. If the car park is empty you can choose whichever reference point that you desire. If there are cars you will need to calculate the reference point that you will need to use.


    1. You may wish to stop between positioning the car at the first reference point and commencing the turn, to break the manoeuvre into easy sections. This is entirely up to you. Ensure that while you are turning you continue with the left lock of the steering wheel, turning it briskly to keep the turn correct. Make sure that you check the blind spot to your right and do this several times during the manoeuvre.


    1. While moving at a consistent speed, make sure that the car is moving very slowly. Should you be unsure of the position of your vehicle, it is perfectly fine to stop and re-evaluate the situation. It is critical that you are constantly checking for pedestrians and other vehicles, including in your blind spot during the examination.


    1. Check the left mirror so that when you see the first line on your left and your reverse bay parking is at a 45-degree angle indicating whether you will be parking inside the lines, you can then evaluate if you should adjust the turn of the vehicle. You will also be able to establish how far from the line you are. The closer you get to the bay, the sooner you will see the second line to your right within which you will be parking the car appear in the right hand side mirror.


    1. As you slowly line the car up in the bay do not forget to keep observing the surrounding area. This is something that cause you to fail if you don’t maintain consistency with it.


    1. From the time that the lines on each side of the car appear to be parallel, straighten the wheel. As a reference point for straightening up, align the end of the right side parallel line with your side view mirror. Be sure not to hit the kerb, as that will precipitate a failure. Use of reference points and practising them, will help you to master this manoeuvre.


  1. Once you have stopped, apply the handbrake and place the vehicle in neutral.

Bay parking to the right

If you need to bay park to the right, perform the procedure exactly as above, but reverse every action. Your reference points will be on the opposite side of your vehicle and your wheel turns will be the opposite too.

Forward bay parking requires one reference point and is a little less stressful.

  1. When approaching the space into which you want to turn, use the number plate of the car in the adjacent bay as your forward bay parking reference point.
  2. Line your side view mirror with the number plate and make two and half turns of your wheel from a forward position, slowly entering the bay.
  3. As you enter the bay straighten up by turning the wheel one a half times in the opposite direction with a little more room still to pull forward.
  4. You will know that you are correctly parked when your mirror is aligned with that of the car in the bay beside you.


You can make the most spectacular smoothest ever reverse bay parking manoeuvre, but if you didn’t stick to the rules about observing everything around you, it will become a resounding fail!

If you allow the vehicle to roll at any point during the procedure, this indicates loss of control of the car and this will also make you fail. Be sure to use the handbrake to the bite point every time you need to apply it.

You have 4 minutes to apply this manoeuvre. That is a lot of time. Keep it as slow and as careful as possible and you’ll complete the procedure well within the time limit. If you try to complete the manoeuvre too quickly it is likely that you will make a mistake. If at any point you think you have exceeded the reference points and you are slightly out of position, explain to the examiner that you are going to pull the car forward to correct. If this is done safely you should still pass.

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