Knowing how to reverse into a parking bay is an essential skill in today’s busy car parks. In a supermarket, if you reverse out of a bay from between other cars, you are almost certain to inconvenience or even endanger others. It is also more difficult to manoeuvre out of a limited space with restricted vision on both sides. If you reverse into the gap however, you can then clearly see what is around you when setting off again. You can also drive straight out from the space and be on your way with ease.
Despite this, the majority of people still drive forwards into a bay. There is of course, the argument that when going shopping, this enables the boot to be reached more easily; but many do it simply because they have problems reversing.
The DVSA decided in December 2017 to include reversing out of a bay as a set exercise; but wherever possible I would always recommend you to reverse in as the safest option.
Practise Reversing into a Bay
Getting into a space such as will be found in a multi-storey car park or superstore requires a similar technique to the left or right-hand reverse. Choose a quiet car park, or even practise using your own driveway or garage if you have one.
You should have a sound knowledge by now of how to reverse a car, but you will need to know how to set the car up for this type of parking manoeuvre. Rather than just driving past the gap and stopping at right angles with the other cars (Fig. a); as you pass the gap you should steer to the left and then steer quickly to the right just before stopping; or vice versa if you approach the bay from the opposite direction. You will then be left with a relatively easy task of doing what is practically a straight reverse (Fig. b).
Safe observation is, as ever, the most important factor to impress on you when practising this exercise. When you drive into a car park, others will naturally be expecting you to stop at some point to drive into a bay; but you must make sure that you know what is behind you. Before you stop or change direction to get into position you should give a signal if necessary, and be aware of where other people are.
As you reverse, it is acceptable to glance in door mirrors to help line the car up with the bay markings; but you should keep up all-round observation at all times. Always be ready to stop if necessary should anyone show an intention to come past.
Try to get yourself centrally into the space, stop and pull forward a little to adjust if necessary. If you feel that the gap is too small, then choose another bay. Sometimes a large vehicle may take up extra space, or another driver may have parked too close to the line. Remember that you need to leave room on both sides for you and others to be able to open doors safely. Ideally, do not park next to other vehicles of you can avoid it; use an open area if there is one!
Now you know how to reverse into a parking bay, you can move onto the next stage of learning to drive.