Parallel parking is one of those things that can send shivers down the spine of even the most seasoned of drivers. In fact, many people will go out of their way just to avoid it. But the problem for you is, if it comes up on your driving test, you can’t avoid it. Examiners aren’t that keen on being asked to choose another test manoeuvre! And anyway, parallel parking isn’t that hard. You just need to know which steps to follow.

So, how can you parallel park like a pro on your driving test day and beyond?

What do you need to know about parallel parking in practise?

What is parallel parking?

Parallel parking is exactly what it says on the tin – parking your vehicle parallel to the road. You’ll usually only need to do it if there is a line of other cars already in place and there is not enough room for you to simply drive forward into a space.

How do I parallel park?

  1. Start by making sure that the space is large enough for your vehicle. You can do this by pulling up alongside the space. So, indicate, pull forward and if there is a 2-3-foot gap between where your car will end and the next begin, you’re good to go.
  2. Check your mirrors and move your car so that it is slightly forward of the vehicle in front of the space.
  3. Check your mirrors again, check your blind spot, and looking over your shoulder begin to slowly reverse.
  4. Once your rear wheels are roughly in line with the rear of the car in front of the space you’re aiming for, stop, apply your handbrake, and check your mirrors and blind spot again. It’s also a good idea to double check the front of the car, so you’re fully aware of everything that’s going on around you.
  5. Once you are sure that no other vehicles or pedestrians are coming, turn your steering wheel to the left a full 360°, release your handbrake and slowly begin to reverse. Use your rear and nearside mirrors to check your position.
  6. Once you’re clear of the car in front, apply your brake, check your mirrors and blind spot, then turn the steering wheel to the right. Slowly, slowly reverse, while rapidly turning your wheel to the right until the front of your vehicle approaches the kerb.
  7. Straighten up. And breathe.

How not to parallel park

Will I fail my driving test if I screw up my parallel park?

Not everyone will be asked to parallel park on their driving test. You have a one in three chance of this being your examiner’s choice of test manoeuvre. And whether or not a poor parallel park will lead to a test fail depends on how you screw up. Manoeuvres are among the most common causes of serious faults on driving tests. But if you just need to correct your position, you should be OK. You may gain a standard fault, but not enough to fail you.

What will lead to a serious fault is lack of observation, loss of control of the vehicle, or poor judgement of the scenario. The examiner basically needs to see that you know what you should be doing, and you know how to do it safely.

So, parallel parking can seem kind of scary when you start out. And yeah, the combination of fast hands and slow feet can be tricky to master. But – and this is a big but – it is an integral skill to learn. Partly because you may not be able to get through your driving test without it. And partly because it will save you a lot of time and stress later on down the line.