What is parking?
The answer to this question might be obvious but lets go over it anyway, parking is the motion of stopping your vehicle in a suitable location where it is out of the way of other road users. Many drivers park their cars in all sorts of different ways where some are technically correct or incorrect, this tutorial will focus on how to correctly park a vehicle to a driving test standard.
Why do I need to learn how to park?
You will definitely be parking your vehicle every time you have reached your destination like for example when you get home, so you need to be able to park properly to avoid parking fines, and avoid being a problem for other traffic. If you are going to take a UK driving test, you will be asked to park a number of times (usually 3 or 4 times) during the practical driving test, your examiner will be checking to see that you can park correctly in terms of your distance from the kerb and whether or not you can park in a Safe, Convenient and Legal Place (SCALP). Your driving test examiner will also be checking that your observations before and after parking are correct.
How to park correctly
So lets crack on with how to park properly. In this section, Fineline Driving Academy will guide you through every detail on how to park to a driving test standard, if you park during your test after using our guide then you can bet that you will not fail for parking however you’ll need plenty of practise before hand.
In a typical driving test, you will be driving down a road and your examiner will ask you to park in a suitable place on the left. You should note that if your examiner has asked you to park, there will be plenty of places for you park, your examiner will not try and catch you out by asking you to park on a road where parking places are minimal. The first thing you need to do is pick a place to park, you should take into account the following points when choosing your parking place:
- Don’t park on the brow of a hill, this isn’t the safest place to park as cars approaching the hill might not be aware you are there.
- Don’t park too close to a bus stop or any other area where cars will be entering/leaving quite often (like a school entrance).
- Don’t park on a bend if you don’t have to, this might not seem that hazardous when parking up however you might miss a vehicle that you can’t see in your mirror when you try to move off.
- Don’t park opposite a junction, or within 10 metres of a junction on your left. This will create a problem for traffic trying to turn.
- Don’t park where the kerb is dropped, like in front of a property entrance or place of business.
- You will only ever park on the left during a driving test, you will never park on your right.
- Never mount the pavement when parking during your driving test, even if it has been dropped for parking purposes or if everyone else on the road has parked on the pavement.
- Avoid parking on double yellow lines, the road you have been asked to park on will rarely have double yellow lines but you should avoid them if you see them.
- Avoid parking on zig zags, these can be found near crossings or near a school entrance.
As we have already mentioned, the road you have been asked to park on by your examiner will probably not have many of the hazards we have listed above, instead you will find many opportunities of places to park. You can check out our ‘How to deal’ with section on, for more information on parking.
Now that you have chosen your place to park on the left, you need to follow the MSM routine and check your left and rear view mirrors followed by an indication to the left. There is a reference point you should use here, line up the middle of your windscreen with the kerb to make sure you are nice and close to it, figure 1 below shows what we mean:
Figure 1. Lining up the kerb with the middle of your windscreen.
You’ll need to steer left until you get to the above reference point, then steer to the right to straighten your vehicle up again. Now you need to look at your left mirror and in particular, the left blind spot mirror (your car should be fitted with one of these to help you through your driving test). Figure 2 below shows how you can check you are reasonably close to the kerb, you shouldn’t be further than around 8 inches from the kerb:
Figure 2. What you will see in your left blind spot mirror when parking.
Check out the video below which shows the perfect parking routine:
If you are happy with your parking, you can stop and secure your vehicle (see our moving off & stopping tutorial for help with stopping ).
You need to make sure you don’t hit or scrape the kerb whilst parking, you should try to park up a bit further away from the kerb than normal and then get closer to the kerb if you need to. This will help you avoid touching the kerb which can lead to a fail in your driving test.
Adjusting your car to get closer to the kerb
So you’ve used the reference point in figure 1. to park up but when you check your left blind spot mirror (figure 2.), you realise you are a bit far from the kerb, something similar to figure 3.
Figure 3. What you will you in your left mirror if you have parked too far from the kerb.
You should try and aim to keep your car rolling even if it is at a very slow roll, you should adjust by steering slightly to the left and then the same amount to the right followed up by straightening the wheel and then stopping. If you have already stopped and then realised that you are too far from the kerb, don’t forget to select 1st gear before you try to adjust your car (check out our changing gears tutorial for help with this). The result of this action with be your vehicle shifting more to the left whilst still remaining straight and parallel to the kerb avoiding parking at and angle.
Moving off after you park
It would be a real shame to park perfectly only to mess it up when you move off again, make sure you read the following so that you move off correctly when you are asked to drive on. You need to make sure you do your 6 point check and indicate right if there is somebody that will benefit from your indication, (more information in the moving off & stopping tutorial). A lot of learners fail their test because they forget to make effective observations when moving off after parking, practise really does make perfect so make sure you have parked plenty of times before your practical test.
Useful points to remember when parking
Our tutorial on parking has hopefully helped you understand the different parts involved with parking, read it carefully and watch the videos to help you practise parking until you are perfect at it. There are a few useful points that you should remember when parking, the following are the most important points that you should bear in mind.
- When you are asked to park during your test, use the SCALP routine to pick your parking place. Make sure you pick a Safe, Convenient and Legal Place to park.
- Don’t park opposite a junction, or within 10 metres of a junction.
- Don’t forget to check your mirrors and signal when parking up.
- You will never park on your right on your driving test, you should only ever park on the left.
- Don’t mount the kerb when you park, even if every other vehicle on the road has mounted the kerb.
- Remember that your examiner will pick a road with many parking places for you to pick from so picking a place shouldn’t be too much trouble.
- Prepare to park at least 3 times during your driving test, this is done by the examiner to make sure you are able to park properly.
- Finally, make sure you do your 6 point check and indicate before moving off.
FINELINES guide to parking
Parking is a skill which you will need to be a competent driver and therefore it is tested thoroughly during your driving test. If you drive in the UK without being able to park properly, you will probably end up with a lot of parking fines and perhaps a clamp or two. If you keep clipping the kerb when you try to park then your shiny alloy wheels will end up getting damaged, or if you park too far from the kerb then your wing mirrors will more than likely be knocked off by passing traffic!
Use Fineline Driving Academys parking tutorial to help you park correctly, we have never had any of our learners fail for parking in their test and considering that our learners have taken over 1800 tests, we must be teaching parking correctly! You can give us a call on 0800 689 9558 / 07446350220 if you want to learn how to drive and you live in the west London area. Here’s our end of tutorial guide to recap everything we’ve taught you today:
- Use the SCALP routine to select your parking place when you have been asked to pull over by your examiner.
- Check your centre mirror and your left mirror and then indicate so that you are aware of your surroundings and so that anyone around you knows what you are doing.
- Steer to the left and line up the centre of your windscreen with the point at which the kerb disappears, figure 1 shows this reference point. Once you get your reference point, steer to the right to straighten up your vehicle.
- Whilst the car is still rolling, check you left blind spot mirror to see if you are a reasonably close distance from the kerb (8 to 12 inches away), figure 2 shows what you should see. If you are too far, steer slightly to the left and the same amount to the right to bring your car closer, our video in this tutorial shows what we mean.
- Once you are happy with your parking, stop and secure your vehicle.
- When your examiner asks to you drive on again, make sure you do your 6 point check and indicate right if there is someone that will benefit.