Driving Lessons

Cowley’s School of Motoring


Topics we will cover

Awareness of your surroundings

Control when reversing

Reverse Bay Parking

Parallel Parking

Forward Bay Parking

Pull Up On Right

Awareness Of Your Surroundings


Awareness is the most important part of reversing. Most pupils tend to focus on the accuracy and I understand why as this is that bit can be tricky.

However think of it this way; you can always fix a manoeuvre that’s gone wrong but you can’t fix poor awareness. Once you’ve hit something or someone you’ve hit it or them.

So where should you be looking when reversing? EVERYWHERE! You will need constant all round awareness. Before starting the reverse check all around for any hazards or risks that may occur during the manoeuvre. 

Throughout the manoeuvre you will need to continuously assess your surroundings for anything that changes.

There’s no magic to this, it’s just about making safety during the reverse your priority not accuracy.

Control When Reversing


Control has two elements when reversing, Speed and Steering.

Speed is crucial to give you time to steer, be accurate and most importantly time to check your surroundings. Keep the car moving slowly using clutch control on the flat and uphill and brake control downhill. If you are struggling with keeping the moving slowly try practicing whilst in a straight line so you don’t have to worry about turning at the same time.

Steering quickly is benificial as most turns when reversing are tight. One thing some people struggle with is which way to steer. The key here is to look in the direction you are going, so out of the back window and turn the way you want the back of the car to go. Want to get closer to the curb? Turn towards it! Want to avoid hitting a car? Turn away from it!



Reverse Bay Park


There is no one method you need to use for this manoeuver, rather it’s just a case of keeping you and everyone around you safe whilst pointing the back of the car into the space. Simple as that!

As you enter the car park you will need to choose a space and then line up your car ready to reverse in. This can be at any angle, whatever works best for you. If you are swinging your car across the road to get an angle be sure to check for any hazards first.

Once you’re set up and ready to start reversing, check all around for anything that will affect you during the reverse. Keep the moving slowly during the reverse and steer as necessary. I’m being deliberately vague about when and how much to steer as the skill here is to feel where the car is going and keep adjusting, just like you would driving around a corner forwards. Don’t over complicate it, if you want to get closer to a line/car steer towards it, if you want to get away from a line/car steer away from it.

Parallel Parking


Parallel Parking is similar to Bay parking in that you will need the same set of skills and that all you are doing is pointing the back of the car into a space. Be aware there many be different types of hazards as you will be on a road, but again with good and consistent observations, you will be able to keep everyone safe.


Again, as with Bay Parking I’m not going to advocate a particular method for the parallel park; it’s just a case of using your judgement and making adjustments.

You start by pulling up along side the car you will parking behind. Checking around you before stopping and signaling left to let other road users know you’re stopping. Select reverse as this will put on your reverse light and act as an extra signal to cars behind. Before you start reversing have a good look around. Once you are happy there are no hazards begin reversing. You will start by turning towards the curb. Once you’ve created the angle you need to get into the space, reverse in a straight line. Now it’s to time judge how close to the curb you are before you need to turn away from it.

As with all reversing the most important part is continuously checking around you for any hazards.

Forward Bay Park


Forward Bay Parking is driving forward into a parking space and reversing out. Generally, I’d suggest reversing into a space and driving out for a few reasons.

  1. The car will go into the space easier backwards.
  2. It’s safer to reverse in than reverse out, as when reversing out you may not be able to see other hazards in the car park. Whereas when reversing in you can see the other traffic in the car park and into the space you’re reversing.


There are times when you may prefer driving forward into the space so let learn how to do it safely.

First of all, as with the other parking manoeuvers safety and awareness are the most important factors. Before turning into the space check all around for any hazards and signal if there is anyone around.

You will then want to create as much space between you and the space. So, if the space is on the right you want to start as far to the left as possible.

Turn into the space as late as you can as this will straighten the car quicker so you can drive in straighter.

Keep the car moving slowly. It can be tempting to go a bit faster as you’re going forward. However, you may need to make adjustments on the way into the space, moving slowly will allow you to make these adjustments.


Before reversing out check all around for any hazards, also be aware of any hazard you may not be able to see due to blind spots created by other parked cars. Slowly reverse out, continuously checking for new hazards. Start turning the way you want the back of the car to go once your front end has cleared any other parked cars. Before driving off and out of the car park, check all around you for any new hazards.

On the test you may park on either the left or the right and in any space in the carpark. The examiner will say “I’d like you park forward into a space of your choice.”

Parking On The Right

Parking on the right and reversing back 2 car lengths is again all about safety. You can re-adjust the position of the car, but you can’t fix a missed observation when there’s a hazard nearby.


The examiner will ask you to stop on the right in a safe place. Firstly you will need to check your surroundings and decide how your stopping will affect other road users.


Are there any cars behind?

Do we need a signal?

Are there any oncoming cars?

Are there any junctions nearby that may affect our decisions?

Where can I stop safely?

When do I need to move across to give me time to position correctly?


Every situation is different, so being able to assess and decide is crucial. However, lets go through a few common scenarios.

If there are any cars or pedestrians around we will need to signal so they know what we are about to do.

If there are oncoming vehicles you will need to give way. This is similar to pulling up on the right, stop at your point of turn and wait.

Consider the timing of your signal if there is a junction on the right. Will it look like you’re pulling into the junction?


Once you’ve parked you will be asked to reverse back 2 car lengths, keeping close to the curb. As with all reversing you will need to be constantly checking your surroundings and stopping for any hazards. Keep the car close to the curb making small adjustments as you go.


Now it’s time to move off again. Check all around you, remembering you are crossing the oncoming traffic. Once you are happy it’s safe to move off, move back onto the left and off you go.

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