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Mastering the Forward Parking Manoeuvre in the UK Driving Test – an essential guide presented by a Book Instructor ADI

Forward parking – driving into a parking space ahead of you – is a manoeuvre that you may be asked to complete during your UK driving test. Whether it’s in a car park during a driving test or in your local supermarket car park, forward parking is a skill that requires precision and spatial awareness.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to perfecting this manoeuvre and acing it on your test day.

Understanding Forward Parking

Forward parking is a common everyday task for drivers. During your test, you may be asked to park in a bay in a public car park, ensuring your vehicle ends up within the lines, straight and well-positioned. Here’s how to approach it:

Step-by-Step Guide to Forward Parking

Step 1: Select Your Space

Choose a parking space that is appropriately sized for the vehicle you are driving. Make sure there is enough room for you to manoeuvre without risking contact with other parked cars.

Step 2: Position Your Vehicle

Approach the parking space slowly, indicating your intention to other car park users. Position your car so that there is enough space to turn into the bay without clipping the corners. You will typically be turning about 90 degrees to the left or the right

Step 3: Check Your Mirrors and Blind Spots

Before you turn into the parking space, check your mirrors and blind spots for pedestrians, trolleys, and other vehicles. Continue to monitor these as you carry out the manoeuvre.

Step 4: Manoeuvre Into the Space

Turn the steering wheel to navigate your car into the bay. The amount of turn will depend on the angle and size of the bay and the type of car park (e.g., angled or perpendicular bays).

Step 5: Adjust Your Speed

Use tight clutch control (in a manual) or gentle braking (in an automatic) to adjust your speed as you enter the bay. It’s important to approach slowly, giving yourself time to adjust your position as needed.

Step 6: Straighten Up

As your car enters the space, straighten up the steering so that your car is aligned within the bay. You may need to adjust as you go to ensure you’re centred between the lines.

Step 7: Complete the Manoeuvre

Once fully within the space, stop the car before you reach the end of the bay. Ensure you’re not too close to the vehicles parked around you, giving yourself and others enough room to manoeuvre later.

Step 8: Secure the Vehicle

Apply the handbrake and select neutral (or ‘park’ in an automatic), then switch off the engine if instructed to do so by the examiner.

 
Step 9: Reversing out
 
Select reverse gear, then begin looking all around the vehicle again to ensure it is safe before you back out of the space. Reverse approximately half way out of the space and steer up-to full lock in the direction you want the rear of the vehicle to go, continue to look all around as you move out of the space, paying attention that your front does not end up going into the space next to your vehicle or clipping another car. Once you are out of the space sufficiently, you can stop, select first gear (or drive), take good and effective checks around you and drive on to exit the car park.

 

Tips for Perfecting Forward Parking

**Use Reference Points**

Your book instructor driving instructor will help you to Identify reference points on your vehicle that align with the bay markings when you are correctly positioned. This can significantly assist you in judging your turns and when to straighten up.

**Practice Makes Perfect**

Practice in different car parks with different sized bays. The more practice you get, the more familiar you will become with the size of the car and how it fits into spaces.

**All About Control**

Maintain slow speeds and controlled movements. Rushing can lead to misjudgement and potentially failing the manoeuvre.

**Keep Calm and Adjust**

If your initial positioning isn’t perfect, remain calm. It’s acceptable to correct your position by reversing and driving forward again, as long as you maintain all-around awareness.

**Exit Strategy**

Remember, you’ll need to exit the space safely as well. Ensure you’re positioned in such a way that leaving the space is straightforward.

**Remember Observations**

Always keep an eye out for other car park users, and give way to pedestrians and other vehicles when necessary.

**Know Your Car**

Different cars have different turning circles and visibility. Get to know the specific dimensions and handling characteristics of the car you’ll be taking the test in.

By following these detailed steps and practicing diligently, forward parking will become second nature. Remember that during the driving test – and in real-life driving – the importance of safety and accuracy can’t be overstated. Take your time, be aware of your surroundings, and control the vehicle with confidence. With the right technique and mindset, you’ll be able to navigate into any parking space with ease.

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