Bay Parking - Common Mistakes & Misunderstandings
Over the years many pupils have come to me with a fear of bay parking - especially between two vehicles. They've also held the belief that you have to do it perfectly at the first attempt or that there's only one method they can use. Let's break those myths.
The examiner will choose the bay for me. - Nope! The choice is yours. You can choose to park in a bay on your left or right. You can choose a bay that has no vehicles parked alongside, a bay with one vehicle or with two vehicles alongside.
It's harder to park between vehicles. - Again this is another misunderstanding. An inexperienced driver may mistake "more scary" for being more difficult. In practice it is often easier to park between vehicles because these give you a better idea of where each boundary is. When parking in a car park where the bays are faded or worn lines, you might actually prefer parking next to a vehicle.
I'm not allowed to pull out again to adjust the vehicle's positioning. - What would you do in real life? On the driving test, do as you would if you were driving any other time. The examiner may even hint that you need to correct by asking if you're sure you're happy with the final position. On a driving test there's no fault recorded for parking on a line (not straddling it though). However, you may even get a penalty charge notice if you park on or over a line in real life so try not to get into any bad habits.
My instructor says there's only one method I'm allowed to use. - This is simply not true. You will need to practice a number of methods as different parking space lay-outs require some adjustments to the starting position. You should be able to choose a bay and then select the correct method to park in it. Don't limit your practice to one type. You never know what will be available. I've recently witnessed candidates failing at the very end of the test because their favoured bay isn't available and the can't adapt their method to park in an alternative bay.
I've got my reference points so I can bay park by just turning to full lock - Sadly there's no shortcuts to being proficient. Using reference points may work in one car but not another. If you rely on reference points you need to be very consistent with your starting position. If you start in a position slightly too wide, or too close, or too far forwards, or steer too quickly, or too soon, or too late, you won't get a consistent result. If you do get it right, this hasn't taught you how to park in any bay and you will likely struggle after passing your test. Don't be that person who is driving around a car park searching for the only bay they know how to park in.