This manoeuvring exercise involves reversing into limited parking space between vehicles. It is easier to manoeuvre your vehicle when reversing into a parking space. More often than not, there is insufficient space to drive forward into a vacant parking space and therefore your only option might be to reverse into the space. The reverse park or parallel park is an essential skill to learn if you want to be able to park in town on the street between vehicles. There are easy steps to follow when carrying out this manoeuvre.
Firstly, in choosing a location for this manoeuvre, you need to assess the parking space, to ensure that it is at least one and a half car lengths in size and that it is safe, legal and convenient to carry out the manoeuvre. If there is a following car (light blue car the in diagram), you will need to signal your intention clearly (blue car in the diagram) before stopping.
You need to slow down well before the parking space you intend to reverse into and position your vehicle about one metre away from the target vehicle (green car in the diagram), parallel to it and slightly forward of the target vehicle. Immediately you stop, select the reverse gear, apply your handbrake and keep your brake lights to confirm your intention to following traffic. It should be noted that, the closer you are to the target car the more difficult it will be to get a suitable angle to reverse into the available space.
Secondly, use the prepare, observe and move (P.O.M.) routine to reverse. To control your speed, try to have the clutch pedal just at or near the biting point (refer to the Moving Off article), and take into account any slopes including the camber of the road which may affect your speed. Carry out all round observation and be particularly mindful of pedestrians before reversing, especially children who are more likely to step out behind your vehicle. Be prepared to stop when pedestrians are around and continue only when it is safe. You should continually look over your right and left hand shoulders whilst reversing.
Thirdly, reverse back, steering in a straight line until the rear of your car is level with the bumper of the target vehicle. At this point, the rear of the target vehicle will appear to be halfway back window of your vehicle. This is the point of turn. Look all around to check it is safe before steering, as the front of your car will swing out. Steer one full turn (360 degrees) right and reverse towards the middle of the parking space. As the front of your vehicle swings out check over your left shoulder for oncoming vehicles and stop if necessary. This is the point where you create the greatest hazard to other road users.
Fourthly, when your car is approximately 45 degrees with the kerb as shown in the diagram, as a guide, your right side mirror lines up with the offside brake light of the target vehicle, steer one full turn left (360 degrees). Your wheel will be straight at this point and reverse back in a straight line.
Lastly, when the nearside of your wheel arch appears to sit or hit the kerb, briskly turn your steering wheel full lock left to the left. When your vehicle is almost parallel with the kerb and still moving very slowly, steer right to bring all the wheels parallel to the kerb and finish within two cars length of the target car. Once you are in the space, you can move forward so that you are positioned centrally and then apply the handbrake or parking brake.
In next week’s article we shall be discussing how to reverse into a side road on the right. For further explanations or clarification on the articles in the Essential Skills of Driving column, consult the author.
Stephen K. Dieseruvwe
Director General, Delta State Traffic Management Authority (DESTMA)
**Driver Trainer and Road Safety Consultant