Simple Guide to Bay Parking Perfection

by EzLicence Last updated


Bay parking can be one of the most technical parts of a driving test. It can leave many new drivers feeling anxious and hoping that it doesn’t come up on their test. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.

We’ll show you a simple four-step system that makes bay parking much easier. With a bit of practice, the next time you see a bay parking spot you’ll feel confident to park. 

What is Bay Parking?

Bay parking is the skill of reversing or driving forward into a designated bay parking spot. There are two types, forward bay parking and reverse bay parking. Forward bay parking requires you to drive into the bay and reverse out, while reverse bay parking requires the opposite. 

It’s an important manoeuvre as you are going to need to bay park regularly in day-to-day life. It’s for this reason that it’s part of the driving test and you can be asked to do it forward or reverse. 

Forward Bay Parking

The forward bay park is typically seen as the easiest of the two for learner drivers. The examiner will inform you whether you need to forward park but it’s down to you to choose the parking space. 

1. Choose Your Bay

As you drive into the car park be aware of the flow of traffic and which bays are available for you to park in. There may be parking bays solely reserved for disabled persons or parents with children. 

To make things easier for yourself, try and choose a parking space on your right-hand side. This will make it easier as you don’t have to drive against the flow of traffic and it gives you the widest turning circle. 

Before you commit to a bay, take a moment to assess your surroundings. Look for a spot that gives you enough room to manoeuvre without feeling cramped. Obviously, a space without another vehicle next to it is ideal. Also, keep an eye out for pedestrians before you start your manoeuvre. 

2. Mirror & Signal

Before you start turning into your chosen parking bay, it’s important to check your mirrors and signal your intention. This is something that an examiner will be watching closely for so make sure to exaggerate your mirror checks. 

Once the mirror check is complete, you can place the indicator on. But, remember, only start the manoeuvre when it’s safe to do so. 

3. Find Your Reference Point

Finding your reference point is key when you’re attempting forward bay parking, as it aligns your car accurately within the space. To find your reference point, align the side mirror with the first bay line of the parking space. This visual marker is your guide to steering the car into the space correctly.

By using this reference point, you’ll guarantee your car is positioned accurately within the bay lines. Practice is essential; the more you do it, the better you’ll become at identifying your reference point quickly and adjusting your position accordingly. 

4. Steer and Move

Having identified your reference point for forward bay parking, it’s time to steer and move into position. These reference points guide you to accurately position your car within the bay lines, but it’s all about controlled adjustments. Keep your hands at the ten and two position on the steering wheel and feed it through your hands. 

When you have the car in line with the reference point, move the car slowly and the wheel quickly to full lock. The car should be positioned inside the bay, parallel to both white lines. But don't worry if you’re not quite there, the test allows you to adjust your position. So, choose reverse gear and reverse slowly out, paying close attention to your surroundings and straighten things up. 

Reverse Bay Parking

Reverse bay parking is what worries a lot of new drivers the most. It’s also the most important of the two as it’s what’s going to be needed to park in tight spaces. 

1. Choose Your Bay

Selecting the right bay for reverse parking is important, as it’ll make the manoeuvring process smoother and safer. When you’re scouting for a spot, aim for a bay without cars on either side. This gives you more room to adjust your position without the stress of nudging neighbouring vehicles.

It’s also essential to pick a space that guarantees you’ve got ample room to manoeuvre. Again, spaces on your right-hand side are typically going to be easier if the car park allows it. Remember to pay attention to one-way systems and any dedicated parking spots that aren’t suitable for you to park in. 

2. Position the Car, Mirror & Signal

First, confirm your car is adjacent to the parking bay and that you’ve pulled slightly past the space that you’ve chosen. Before you start reversing, it’s important to check your mirrors and blind spots. You’re not just looking for cars; keep an eye out for pedestrians who might walk behind your vehicle.

Once you’re sure the coast is clear, signal your intention to move into the bay. This isn’t just about courtesy; it’s a safety measure to alert others of your manoeuvre. Don’t rush this step as your examiner will be watching that you do it correctly. So make sure to exaggerate your checks so the examiner can see you’ve done it. 

3. Find Your Reference Point

To find your reverse bay parking reference point, use the 3-line rule. 

Count three white lines starting with the one on the outside of your chosen space. Move the car and when the third white line aligns with your shoulder, you’ve found the sweet spot. This should be about two car lengths past.

Begin reversing when it’s safe to do so and quickly turn the wheel to full lock in the direction that you want to turn. In your left mirror, the white line of your parking bay should start appearing. This is your second reference point. 

The third reference point will be the other white line appearing in your right-wing mirror. Use both wing mirrors to find the point where you’re parallel to both lines and then straighten up the wheel.

4. Steer and Move

When moving through the reference points you want to do so steadily. To really impress the examiner you’ll want to show that you can control the car. This also has the benefit of making the reverse bay park easier. It gives you more time to assess the situation and make corrections. 

If you’re not quite happy with how straight the car is in the bay, you’re allowed to pull back out and make adjustments. 

How to Reverse Out of a Parking Bay

Learning how to bay park also requires learning how to get back on the road safely. With a few things going on there are several checks that you need to get right. 

1. Mirror Check & Move Slowly

Before pulling out of a parking bay, always check your mirrors and blind spots to guarantee safety. This important step is vital for identifying any potential hazards or obstacles in your path. 

As you back out, continuously use your rearview and side mirrors to monitor your positioning and make sure you’re not veering too close to the cars parked next to you. If you notice you’re getting too close to an obstacle, don’t hesitate to stop and adjust your steering accordingly. Remember to signal your intention to move out by using your indicators, alerting other road users of your actions. 

2. Turn at the Reference Point

When you start reversing you want to wait for a third of the car to leave the space before you start turning the wheel. If there’s a parked car next to you this ensures that the bar of your car isn’t going to get too close to theirs. 

Keep checking in front and behind to make sure that you’re on the right path and not too close to anything. You’ll reach a point where full lock becomes possible and you’ll be back on the road and ready to go. 

Why Do I Need to Learn How to Bay Park?

Learning how to bay and reverse park is important because it’s a skill tested in UK driving exams since December 2017. Mastering both forward and reverse bay parking techniques guarantees you’re ready for quick stops at local shops or when finding a spot at work.

It isn’t just about passing your test; it’s about gaining a skill that makes parking safer and more efficient in any situation. By regularly practising bay parking, you’ll improve your judgment, control, and observation, making every parking manoeuvre easier.

Will Bay Parking Be on My Test?

Bay parking has a 1-in-3 chance of being selected as a manoeuvre in your test. This means you’ll need to be prepared for both forward and reverse bay parking scenarios as examiners can specify either. They’ll assess your judgment and vehicle control, key components of successful bay parking.

Before you demonstrate your skills, you’ll be given time to prepare. It’s up to you to choose which space to park in. 

What Will the Examiner Be Looking For?

When you’re undergoing a bay parking manoeuvre during your test, the examiner’s focus will be on your ability to judge distances and control your vehicle effectively. They’ll be watching closely as you observe your surroundings, making sure you’re using your mirrors to gauge the space around you.

Correctly positioning your car within the bay lines is a must, and they’ll expect you to follow reference points and adjust your positioning as needed. Also, your examiner will check that you’re taking safety measures seriously, such as signalling your intentions and checking your blind spots thoroughly.

Mastering these aspects shows you’re not just capable of parking in a bay, but also that you’re a conscientious and safe driver overall.

Common Mistakes Drivers Make

While learning the skills to park in a bay, it’s also important to be aware of the common mistakes drivers often make. With this knowledge, you can make sure you don’t make the same mistakes. 

  • Not checking your blind spots before starting the manoeuvre
  • Failing to indicate 
  • Misjudging the parking space size
  • Many drivers rush, not maintaining a slow speed

Want to Practice Your Bay Parking?

Looking to get some practice to help you pass your driving test with ease? Use EzLicence to find instructors in your area and book a driving lesson in under five minutes. 

Choose from hundreds of accredited instructors who have been rated by real learners just like you. Then arrange a lesson when it suits you and you’ll be passing your driving test in no time.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you fail a manoeuvre in a driving test?

If you get a major fault during a manoeuvre you will fail your driving test. A smaller mistake will be considered a minor and you can still pass the test. Your examiner will consider the severity of the mistake and whether it poses a safety risk before deciding.

What is the bay parking method?

Bay parking is when you park your car within a designated box space in a car park, doing so either by reversing in or driving in and aiming to finish neatly within the lines.

What are the 3 types of parking?

The three types of parking are parallel (alongside the road), bay (in a marked space in a car park), and angle (diagonally into a space, common in some car parks).

How do I know where to park when bay parking?

To pick a spot for bay parking, look for a space that your car can fit into comfortably, considering enough room to manoeuvre without hitting other parked cars or obstacles. Aim for a spot where you can easily align your car within the bay lines.

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