Does the car need to be inside the white lines when parking in a bay?
One of the manoeuvres that you might currently be asked to do on the UK driving test is called “The reverse park” exercise. The examiner might ask you to reverse park within a parking bay at the test centre (either at the start or at the end of the driving test) OR you might be asked to reverse park behind or between parked cars on the left side of the road.
This blog is going to concentrate on one positional aspect of the reverse park, within a bay at the test centre. It will look at the accuracy required for the final position of the vehicle once the manoeuvre is completed. If you would like to see a very handy summary of the options available to you to reverse into the bay, feel free to check out our Bay Parking on Driving Lessons video. The options available to you will be dictated by the situation at your driving test centre – they do vary quite considerably.
On a driving test today I saw a vehicle being reversed into a bay at the test centre and the driver finished the manoeuvre in this position… As can be seen, the rear and front wheel are literally only just on that white line of the bay. There is an inch possibly two inches of black tyre (if we are being generous) on the very outside edge of the white line. The driver stopped the car, and did not make any attempt to adjust the position at all. The examiner may well have asked the driver something along the lines of “Are you finished?”. If this is asked, it is always wise to take stock of the situation, check out your position, and if necessary, make any adjustments. What I did see however, was the car being turned off, and the examiner got out the car, walked to the rear of the car, and took about 5 seconds to properly look at the position of the wheels in this photo. I then saw the examiner return to the car, and a driving test pass was awarded.
To discover that leaving the car in this position on a driving test and still pass might come as a surprise to you – it certainly did to me, and two other driving instructors in the test centre, one of whom was the instructor for the pupil driving in the bay. How can this be?
In all matters to do with the conduct and parameters of a driving test in the UK, we need to refer to a document known as DT1 which is the DVSA standard operating procedure and is freely available for the public to view
Here is a relevant snippet of that document (saves you the trouble of downloading and looking up the page):
The sentence underlined and in bold is very relevant to the final position: Parking outside the bay is unacceptable. So we can safely assume that the position shown in my image above is NOT outside the bay. If that was deemed outside the bay, it would have resulted in a driving test fail. But the next couple of sentences are also very relevant:
There is no fault if you cross the white lines while entering the bay. Interestingly though, if there were vehicles parked either side of the bay being reversed into, and the white line was crossed, that might come very close to a collision!
Examiners should consider whether the car could reasonably be left, in that car park, in the prevailing conditions, in that position. Now this is the sentence that is crucial. In real life driving, if you were to leave your vehicle in a busy supermarket car park in the position as shown in the above image, then it might be questionable whether that is a good idea. Firstly, anyone wanting to park next to you is going to have a very hard job of it. Secondly, even if they did manage to park next to you, it is going to be potentially very difficult to open doors (from either of the vehicles). But we are not in a busy supermarket car park. We are in a driving test centre car park, and depending on the test centre, there may be several other bays that are empty and available for others, or there may be far fewer. The test centre that I was in this morning when I saw the bay park must have had approximately 20 other empty bays for others to park in.
So there you have it! Personally, I would advise my customers not to leave things to chance like this. Whilst it was assessed as acceptable, I think it is always a very good idea to be aware of the accuracy in your parking, and if a forward shunt or two is needed on these manoeuvres, do it, it is showing an attention to detail and will hold you in good stead for a life of parking after the driving test!
I hope this blog has helped to raise the awareness of what is acceptable for the final position of the vehicle having done a reverse bay park on the UK driving test. If you have any queries or comments, please feel free to add them below.
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