What is bay parking?
Ever been to your local supermarket car park and been presented with
hundreds of parking spaces for you to choose from? Well parking in one of these
‘bays’ is called bay parking, while it might seem easy enough if the
car park is empty, try a Saturday afternoon and a choice of only a few empty bays,
you will have to use a bit of skill to safely slot into one of these bays without
getting close to another parked vehicle.
Why do I have to learn bay parking?
You probably won’t be able to use many of the available car
parks in the UK if you can’t bay park properly. Also, it is 1 of a possible
4 manoeuvres that you may be asked to perform during your driving test however you
will only be required to perform this manoeuvre if your chosen driving test centre
has bays to park in, if it doesn’t then you will not have to bay park during
your driving test but learning it is still recommended. Learning the bay park manoeuvre
will give you greater confidence in reversing your car into a limited opening as
well as getting a better idea of how big your car is.
What will the examiner be looking for in this manoeuvre ?
There are a few things that your driving test examiner will mark you
on if you are asked to perform this manoeuvre during your practical exam. The 3
items in particular and what is required for each to be satisfied during the test
are shown below:
Control – Are you controlling the car properly or is the
vehicle out of your control when performing this manoeuvre?
Accuracy – Is the manoeuvre carried out accurately? If you
did it again would it be pretty similar to the first time?
Observation – Did you take effective observations before,
after and during the manoeuvre? Did you react when you saw anything that might cause
you a problem (such as another car or pedestrians)?
If the examiner is happy that all of these boxes are ticked then you can rest assured
that the manoeuvre has been carried out successfully. Figure 1 below shows the section
of the marking sheet which will be used if you carry out this manoeuvre during your
Figure 1. Part of marking sheet for bay park.
How to successfully bay park in your driving test
One positive side to having to do the bay park for your manoeuvre
is that you know when the manoeuvre is coming, either right at the start of your
test or at the end as you return to the test centre. Like all of the manoeuvres,
there are a few methods around which you can try however this tutorial will focus
on the method we teach our learners at Fineline Driving Academy.
All of the feedback we have received from our learners regarding this manoeuvre
has been positive so we must be doing something right!
You will need to use careful judgement with this manoeuvre because
every test centre has a different car park layout, our method will work with every
different type of car park but you need to pay careful attention to get your starting
position correct. As with every manoeuvre, practise makes perfect so if your test
centre has bays then make sure you have practised bay parking plenty of times before
your test. Just like with every manoeuvre, start by opening your window by a couple
of inches so that you can hear whats going on around you during the manoeuvre and
stop if need be.
Lets start with your starting position to bay park successfully, you
need to position 1 cars width from the start of the bay and at a right angle with
the bays. When you have picked the bay you wish to reverse into, you need to focus
on the 2nd bay to the right or the left (depending on which side you want to reverse
in from). Figure 2 below shows an animation of your starting position.
Figure 2. Starting position for the bay park manoeuvre
Line up your window button with the line dividing bay B & C. (the 1st and 2nd
bay to the right or the left of your chosen bay). When you look out of your window
you should see something similar to figure 3 below:
Figure 3 : view out of window when you line up window button with bay line
As mentioned, you need to practise getting into the correct parking
position to help reverse into your bay smoothly. Once your car is in the correct
starting position, you should select the reverse gear and perform your 6 point check
to see if it is clear to begin your manoeuvre (see
moving off & stopping tutorial for more information).
Release your handbrake and begin to reverse slowly, apply a full lock steer to the
left (full lock means steer all the way to the left), your car will now reverse
into your chosen bay. There will be a point where you must begin to straighten your
steering wheel for your car to stop in a neat position, have a look at the following
video showing your left door mirror and the point at which your car is straight
within the bay.
VIDEO SHOWING CAR STRAIGTENING UP IN BAY IN LEFT DOOR MIRROR.
Once the line dividing the bays is parallel with your car, like that seen in the
above video, you should straighten your steering wheel and look for another reference
that will tell you that you have reversed enough. Look over your right shoulder
and line up the bottom of the bay with the corner of your window, something similar
to figure 4 shown below:
Figure 4. Line up the kerb with the corner of your window to know where the bay
The video below shows how to locate this reference point, notice how the vehicle
is stopped as soon as the kerb reaches the bottom right hand corner of your window.
Once the bottom of the bay lines up with the corner of your window, you have run
out of room to reverse and you should stop your car. Secure your vehicle and select
neutral, your reverse parking manoeuvre is now complete. You should see the following
out of each door mirror when you stop:
Figure 5 : View out of both door mirrors when you reverse nicely into your bay
The following video shows the complete reverse bay parking manoeuvre
from start to finish, including all of the reference points that you will need.
Ideally, if you get your starting position correct then you should
reverse into your bay very comfortably without any trouble. If you realise that
you are not straight in your bay or are going to overlap into the next bay then
you’ll have to adjust your car, the next part will focus what to do if this
What to do if you don’t reverse neatly into your bay
If your starting position is not too good or you don’t get your
full lock steering on as soon as you should then you might not reverse as smoothly
into your bay as you would like,this could also happen if the bays are narrower
than usual. We will help you in adjusting your vehicle if you realise that you might
finish at an angle or in between two bays which wouldn’t impress any driving
Lets firstly take a look at how to realise that your car isn’t
going to reverse into your chosen bay neatly, the key is to start looking at your
mirrors nice and early to see where the bay lines are appearing. This will give
you a good indication on how your cars finishing position in the bay will look like,
you need leave to an even space between your car and the bay line on either side
of your car, like that shown in figure 5 above. If you start to see anything similar
to figures 6,7 & 8 out of either door mirror then you will have to take some
Figure 6, 7. An example of the view you might see out of your mirrors if you are
not reversing neatly into your bay (ie. at an angle).
The only plan of action if this occurs is some sort of steering to put you straight,
remember that you can’t simply stop to drive forward and reverse again so
you should practise getting it right by just reversing. It would be impossible to
use this tutorial to tell you exactly what to do if you aren’t reversing into
your bay neatly because there are so many different situations that you could find
yourself in. Instead, just keep practising and you will get better at reversing
neatly into your chosen bay, remember the cars width gap that you left between yourself
and the bay like that shown in figure 2? well this helps you have ample room to
correct your car if you need to.
You should bear in mind that if you have to correct yourself, keep an eye on the
reference point to see when you have run out of room (figure 4). If you get to a
point where you have run out of room and you are not parked correctly within your
bay, don’t just secure your car and sit there because your examiner won’t
be too impressed. Instead, you should drive forward about a metre and reverse again
but apply some steering to correct yourself. Although this might not be accepted,
doing so will show your examiner that you can correct your mistakes and they might
let you off if you have no other serious/dangerous faults in the rest of your test.
Useful points to remember when bay parking
There are a few pointers that will help when you carry out the bay
park manoeuvre, it is one of the awkward aspects of learning how to drive but with
practise it shouldn’t cause you any problems at all. Take a note of the following
useful points and keep them in mind when you practise this manoeuvre, these are
items that our learners at Fineline Driving Academy find useful
when they attempt this manoeuvre:
- Get your starting position correct! This is the key to bay parking
correctly. You will realise when you practise this manoeuvre that if your starting
position is correct, the manoeuvre will normally be a success.
- As with all of the manoeuvres, you won’t need to apply any gas as the movement
of the car caused by teasing the biting point will be enough (check out the
moving off & stopping tutorial
for more information).
- Keep looking behind you throughout the manoeuvre, pausing every few seconds to check
its safe all around.
- Don’t reverse too much! Use the reference point we explained in this tutorial
to stop you reversing too far in the bay (figure 4).
- If you realise you won’t be reversing neatly into your bay, straighten up
your wheel earlier and then apply some steering to straighten up your car. Use our
videos for more help with this.
- Use your mirrors frequently to see how close you are to any surrounding cars because
clipping a car is very common when bay parking.
FINELINES guide to bay parking
Here is our end of tutorial guide to bay parking, as we may have already
mentioned, this manoeuvre can be tricky because of the different types of bays that
you could be asked to reverse into. We have therefore uploaded plenty of videos
and images to give you as much of a helping hand as possible with performing this
manoeuvre. Our learners at Fineline Driving Academy tend to find
this manoeuvre tricky at first but after a few attempts they usually find it is
one of the easiest. The following is a quick recap of how to bay park successfully:
- When you have chosen the bay you want to reverse into, you need to identify the
bays which are 2nd and 3rd to the right/left of your chosen bay (depending on which
way you are reversing in from). Figure 2 shows an animation of this.
- When getting into your starting position you need to make sure your vehicle is one
cars width away from the start of the bay (figure 2).
- Line up the bay dividing line between bays b & c with your window button (figure
- Select reverse gear and perform a 6 point check. Release your handbrake and steer
full lock to the left if you are reversing into your bay from the left, or steer
full lock right if you are reversing in from the right.
- Don’t use the gas, just tease the clutch above and below the biting point
to move your car.
- Keep checking your door mirror to see when your car has straightened up within the
bay (figure 3), when you get to this point your should straighten up your wheel.
- Keep reversing back until you see the bottom of the bay line or the kerb in line
with the corner of your window (figure 4). Stop when you get this reference point
because there is no more room to reverse.
- If you realise early enough that you won’t be finishing within your bay neatly,
then you should straighten up your wheel and steer accordingly to adjust your cars
position. Check out our videos to get a better idea of what we mean.
- If you finish in a bad position within the bay, drive forward a metre and reverse
back again with some adjustment to your steering.
- Throughout the manoeuvre, keep looking out of your back window with constant checks
all around and in your door mirrors to see if your car will be reversing neatly
into the bay. Keep a careful eye on other traffic, open your window slightly before
the manoeuvre to hear traffic more easily.