Learning to drive

How to bay park

The way you learn the bay park with your driving instructor will help you soooo much after the test. The last spot right in front of Tesco AND no flattened bollards. Win.

The bay park is one of the 4 manoeuvres you’ll need to learn for your driving test. The bay park in your test is a reverse parking manouevre but it would be useful to practise driving forward into a bay too.

There are several ways to do the bay parking manoeuvre but they all rely on these key skills:

  • Accuracy: make sure you position the car within the bay lines
  • Control: keep the car very slow using clutch control, braking smoothly
  • Observation: ramp up the observation in the right areas

The bay park process

We'll split this into 3 chunks (Preparation - Observation - Manouevre) but make sure you're doing your observation at the same time as all the other steps.


1. Position the car with plenty of room between you and the bays you are reversing into - about a car’s width if possible. This makes the manoeuvre easier as it gives you a wider turning circle.

2. Count 3 lines back from the bay you’re aiming for and reverse to where that line is half-way through the front passenger door - like it’s a spear through your side.

3. When you’re happy with your position, gently brake to a stop and apply the handbrake. Make sure you’re in reverse gear, then get yourself ready to move: find a good clutch position for control as you'll be needing to move veerrrrryyy slowwwwlyyyy.

  • Observation

    Before moving: check your right blind spot, right mirror, ahead, main mirror, left mirror, left blind spot. Wait to let anyone you see pass safely.

    To reverse: fix your gaze on your rear window, checking your left side mirror now and then to see the line of the bay appear.

    Any time you slow or stop: check again for vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. If anyone approaches, stop and let them pass. If they stop for you, carry on with the manouevre. You’ll only cause more of an obstruction if you dither.

  • Manoeuvre

    1. Start reversing and almost immediately turn the wheel fully to the left. The front of your car will swing out to the right so be aware of hazards.

    Look in your left mirror to pick up the nearest line of the bay you want. As your car starts to move round into the bay, the right mirror will pick up the other line on the driver side.

    Assess both lines in your mirrors to keep an even distance between them, making slight adjustments if necessary.

    How to bay park

    2. If you find that you're too close to the nearer bay line, steer half a turn to the right.

    This will widen the turning circle, positioning the car closer to the other line so you're more centred.

    Remember: the slower you do this manoeuvre, the easier it is and the more time you have for observation.
    How to bay park

    3. As you're entering the bay, make sure you have a foot to spare either side of you by keeping an eye on both wing mirrors.

    Adjust by steering very slightly left or right as needed.

    It's fine to pull forward at this point if you want to, so you can reverse straight back into the bay.

    Just remember your observation before you move forward or it could have all been for nothing.

    How to bay park

    4. Don’t reverse back too far and take your time pulling forwards/back slightly to straighten up.

    It doesn't have to be beautiful but you can get a minor if you're very skewiff.

    When you've finished straightening and you're 100% happy with your position in the bay, apply the handbrake and move the gearstick into neutral.


    How to bay park

    Bay parking in your driving test

    You might be asked to do this manoeuver at the beginning or at the end of the test. If it’s right at the beginning, don’t forget the moving off procedure as you first come out of the bay you’re parked in.

    You’ll be a bit OMG at being asked to do the manoeuvre right away so repeat your mantra from the beginning: OBS-ER-VATION, OB-SER-VATION.

    If all fails and the manoeuver goes wrong, there’s no harm in asking the examiner if you can try again. Time permitting, there’s a good chance they’ll let you. And if you get it right the second time, you may still pass the bay park.


  • By

    Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .