Hawkwell Driving School Hockley - Driving lessons in Hockley, Rayleigh, Rochford, & Hullbridge.    Tel. 01702 204674

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We try to make all the manoeuvres very easy for you: We have on our car additional door mirrors which make it easy to see along the side of the car, and to judge where the rear wheels are. Also there is a centre marker in the rear screen to make it simple to reverse in a straight line, and a marker to simplify parallel parking.

Although you won't have all these on your own car when you have passed your test - they make manoeuvring on your test much easier. You will also find that once you understand a manoeuvre, helped by using these aids, you will not find it difficult to do without.

Note: a lot of the photographs and videos were taken using our previous car, similar markers are positioned our our current vehicle. The methods are the same.

On your driving test you will only do one reversing manoeuvre.

Before any manoeuvre your examiner will always stop you at the side of the road, and explain what he wants you to do next.

For all the driving test manoeuvres you have three things to consider:

Tips and techniques are given for each manoeuvre individually. The common theme is that you can stop when you like, take your time, move very slowly and shunt forwards if you need to. If you think that it is going wrong, don’t carry on: STOP, and pull it forwards to correct it. You do not have to rush.

I once had a pupil who shunted forwards 5 times, when parking in a bay, because he wasn't happy with it, and he still passed!

Allegedly the examiner can allow 7 minutes for a manoeuvre. That's ages, so take your time. It is better to slowly get it right, than to quickly get it wrong.

You can also dry-steer (turn whilst stationary) if necessary, it is not a problem on your driving test.

Which way to steer: Some people know instinctively how to steer in reverse. If you struggle with reversing I hope that the following helps:

When you are going forwards you are thinking about the front of the car. When you are going backwards you should be thinking about the back of the car. Then for any reversing manoeuvre just turn the top of the steering wheel to the side that you want to go to. If you want to move the back of the car towards the kerb, steer towards the kerb.

Another way of thinking about is - if you are using the left mirror to see where you want to go, then your initial turn will be towards the left mirror.

It is very easy to focus too much on which way to turn the steering wheel, and to lose the overall picture. Try to look to where you want the car to go, and steer that way.

Reverse left - Look left - Steer left.

When straightening try to have courage in your convictions, and if you begin to turn the steering the way you want to go, and the car doesn't go that way. Don't give up! Continue turning it until the car goes the way you want. If to turn from centre to full-lock takes one-and-a-half turns, before it will go straight you have got to turn it back one-and-a-half turns.

Again for all manoeuvres when reversing look over your left shoulder out of the back window for at least half of the time, preferably more. At numerous times also STOP and look forwards, over your right shoulder and all around as well.

Aim to have at least 3 stop and observe points during each manoeuvre. Always try to avoid being in the process of reversing to the left, and looking to the right. If someone walks across behind, you might run them over. And they won't like that!

Look over your right shoulder when stationary, your left shoulder when moving !


Dealing with others:
When you are manoeuvring everybody else has right of way, including pedestrians. So basically, wait for everybody. It doesn't matter how long you wait as long as it's for a reason.

If another car approaches, while you are doing the manoeuvre, try to STOP before the other driver is close enough to have to react to you. If you stop when they are very close they may hit you, because at that point they are expecting you to keep moving. After you've stopped, if they then go past - continue with your manoeuvre. If they stop, or slow right down, and want to wait, let them.

But never just assume that they will stop because they can't get through. They might drive over the pavement to get past. I even had a very large removal lorry do this once. If it can happen, it will.

Pull-up on the right side of the road
The manoeuve involves a pull-up on the right side of the road in a convenient place, and then reversing in a straight line for 2 car lengths; then pulling away again to return to normal driving on the left-hand side of the road.

Some points to be aware of:
Finding a convenient place is much more difficult on the "wrong" side of the road - the wider the road, the more difficult this is. Try to decide on a likely place, indicate early, and position yourself next to the centre-line - then don't be in a rush to commit yourself to the other side of the road, until you are sure it is OK. Also be aware that as you position next to the centre-line you may block the road if there is a parked car on the right side.

Reversing from your pull-up position is easy IF you get the car completely straight before you reverse. Be very precise with the angle of the car and the steering as you pull-up. Usually it is best to drive along next to the right-hand kerb for a short distance.

Before reversing be sure that you look properly behind you through the rear window, and don't move if there are any moving vehicles close enough for you to affect. Whilst reversing keep checking in-front, and behind, and the driveways either side, by looking around - not just by using the mirrors! Finish by applying handbrake and neutral, as usual.

When pulling away afterwards be extremely careful as you will need much more space than you would if pulling away from the left-side. Really exaggerate your observation, especially over your left shoulder. A lot of modern cars have a massive blindspot on the left (nearside) rear due to the size of the rear roof pillars. Diligently use the left side mirror to confirm it is clear. Indicate only when it is clear to go. Last thing to do before you move is another left blindspot check.

Use a 2-stage technique by checking, moving, pausing, re-checking, and moving again if clear. By pausing when you re-check it avoids moving towards something as you see it!

Forwards into a car parking space
This manoeuvre involves pulling into a car park space driving forwards, then reversing out either to the left or the right. When you pull in you must finish in-between the lines of the space, but as always you can make adjustments if you feel it is necessary.

If the space is on your left you may need to keep as far right as possible as you near it so that you have room to swing the car onto a straight track before entering the space. And vice versa if the space is on the right. Line up the front of your dashboard with the nearest line of the space that you want to drive into, before turning towards it.

When you are asked to reverse out either to the left or the right, the examiner wil be looking for good observation skills. Use the mirrors and look over both shoulders out of the back window. Pedestrians and vehicles can come from any direction in a car park, and small children can run behind you - Be very careful !!!

Parallel parking:
The examiner will stop you at the side of the road and give you the following instruction: "I now want you to pull up alongside the next parked car, stop, and reverse park next to the kerb; within 2 car lenghs of the vehicle." Normally this won't be in a gap, but just behind a car.

Pull up alongside your target car about 2/3 of a metre away and about level with it. When it is clear all around, begin to move slowly backwards and line up the furthest rearward part of the car you want to park around, roughly level with your driver's seat. Then Stop.

If safe, move again, being very careful with the clutch, and turn the steering in one full turn towards the kerb, Stop when your car is at about a 45 degree angle across the road (we have a reference point to use on our car). Take more all-round observation.

Reverse from here very slowly (the road speed is critical) and turn the steering full-lock right. In our car keep our reference point tracking along the base of the kerb. Remember to keep looking over your left shoulder as much as possible, and keep stopping to check up and down the road.

Pause when you are about two thirds of the way in to check how close to the kerb you are, as at this point it is very easy to make a correction.

Stop as soon as you are parallel to the kerb, leaving the steering as it is (you don't have to straighten up the wheels). if it looks good then finish there. If you are unhappy with it then shunt forwards to make a correction.

Reversing into a car park bay:
If you take a driving test at a test centre that doesn't have its own car park, the reverse into a bay normally won't be done.

The examiner will give you the following instruction as you enter the test centre car park: "I now want you reverse park into a car parking bay of your choice. Please treat the manoeuvre as if you are doing it in a busy supermarket car park."

The part about the busy supermarket car park means that your observation must be appropriate to a busy car park full of moving cars and pedestrians - not an empty test centre car park.

Method #1: In a straight line:
Position your car so that you are facing away from the space, trying to get the space you want directly behind you. Then in the interior mirror use the centre point of the rear screen (silver sticker in our car) to line up with the centre of the space. Make sure the area is clear, particularly centrally behind, by looking over your left shoulder, check your right hand side too. Then begin to reverse. When you get close to the space - stop & ensure that you have a white line each side in the side mirrors. If so, keep straight and continue reversing. Stop when the car is fully in the space, usually best judged by looking at the line at the front of the parking space next to you.

Method #2: At 45 degrees (to the left as an example).

Drive forwards towards the bay you want to reverse into, keeping close to it. When your driver's seat is level with the line at the far side of the required bay, stop. Check all around and then as you move forward steer briskly away from the space until you are at about a 45 degree angle, then straighten the steering. The same line that you referenced earlier should then be visible in the door mirror.

Check over your left shoulder. Check all around. If safe, begin to move back turning the steering wheel towards the bay, keeping the line you want to be next to in view, but close to the side of the car. At all times maintain the gap between the side of your car and the line, or any other vehicle. As the back of your car enters the space, check for a line on the other side too. Then straighten the steering to keep parallel. Move fully back to finish.

Bay parking at 45 degree angle when line is visible in the side mirror

Method#3: At 90 degrees (to the left as an example):

Try to be a car's width or so away from the space, the further out you are the easier it is. This is assuming that there is sufficient room on the other side of your car. Remember that as you steer left the front will swing out the opposite way. Line-up so that you can look along the length of the 3rd line forwards of the space, being at a right angle to it.

Check all around and especially behind over your left shoulder, and your right side for other cars, or pedestrians. Commence turning to full lock as soon as you move (being aware of the front-swing); keep checking the left-side mirror as you curve around towards the space. Make sure that you keep the line on the left side of the parking space, on the left side of your car; and maintain the gap.

Keeping the lines visible when reversing into the bay

Just as you become parallel to the lines each side of the space, pause. Then straighten the steering as you move very slowly (one and a half turns-ish from full-lock to centre). Move back as necessary to get fully into the space to finish. It is better to be tight to the line on the left side when you come in as it is easy to correct by straightening slightly. It is much more difficult if you are tight to or over the line on the other side, because any correction means moving forwards. 

To pass your test you can be on the line but not the other side of it, and you may finish at an angle as long as you are within the space.

Reversing around a corner & 3-point-turn are no longer done on the driving test (since Dec 2017).

Emergency stop:
Before the examiner gets you to do this exercise they will stop you at the side of the road and tell you what they want you to do next. The examiner will NOT try to take you by surprise. Only one in three driving tests do the emergency stop.

Examiner's instruction:
"Within the next few minutes I want you to stop in an emergency. I want you to stop promptly, and under full control. The signal to stop will be- (examiner shows you the salute type signal) - STOP. Before I give you the signal to stop, I will look around over my right shoulder to make sure that the road is clear behind. Please don't stop until I give you the signal "

How to do it:
When you drive away it is important to drive along at a normal speed, and in a normal road position, accelerating normally up to the speed limit if it is safe. Also keep an eye on your mirrors, so that you know what is around you. You shouldn't be driving slowly so that you can stop easily, and you shouldn't be driving fast and in the middle of the road so that you have room to skid. This won't impress the examiner, not in a good way anyway!

When you get the signal to stop: STOP. Don't check the mirrors- the examiner has already checked behind - just STOP! Be quick and firm, concentrate on the brake, and only push the clutch down just before you stop (if you have time). Remember it is an emergency stop, not a casual stop. It should be sudden! Imagine that a child has just run out in front of you, and you must stop to avoid running them over. If everything on the back seat falls off you know that you've done a good one.

When you are expecting the 'stop' signal from the examiner - keep your left foot away from the clutch. If you hover over the clutch, you will automatically press it down before the brake:

(This will make the car momentarily seem to go faster: Because in the time between lifting your foot off the gas and hitting the brake, if the clutch is down, you will lose all engine braking. Maintaining engine braking at this point actually helps you stop more quickly, as it causes weight transfer to the front wheels, spreads the tyre contact patch, and digs the tyre in, enabling your braking to be harder without skidding)..

It doesn’t matter if you stall, as long as you stop.

A fail on the emergency stop is usually because the candidate either doesn't brake hard enough or doesn't react quickly enough. Remember it is supposed to be an emergency. Often a slow reaction is due to lifting your heel to re-position to brake. It is best to keep your heel under the brake pedal and pivot your foot, this is much quicker!

After you have stopped: Apply the handbrake, select neutral, and wait for further instruction. When you are asked to pull away- Check LEFT and RIGHT blindspots (because you will be well away from the kerb), and your mirrors before moving off. If there is other traffic around, but not close enough to be a problem, then indicate right to pull away. If someone comes up behind you while you are stopped - indicate left, or use the hazards, to encourage them to go past.