You may be asked to complete a front-to-kerb or rear-to-kerb park at an angle of 45°, 60° or 90° during your practical driving test (depending on local availability). During these parks you will be assessed on your ability to position your vehicle legally, safely and accurately. Parking manoeuvres can be complex and are expected to happen at a slow pace, so you shouldn’t feel rushed when completing a park.
A front or rear-to-kerb park can be asked of you in a street or public car park (private parking including shopping centres cannot be used). A nominated street is required to be sealed and conventionally kerbed. A nominated car park is required to be reasonably flat with wide access roads and low traffic volume to minimise the chance that you will encounter vehicles as you try to complete the park. If vehicles are required to wait for you to complete the park, don’t feel pressured to hurry. The testing officer is concerned with legality, safety and accuracy, not speed. Either location must be adequately sign posted regarding parking restrictions and required angle and direction of park.
You will always be asked to park on the approach side of a vehicle that is already correctly parked and should practice in this situation, using the vehicle already parked as a reference point when completing the manoeuvres.
There are many different methods that will allow you to successfully complete a front or rear-to-kerb park of any angle. It is recommended that you spend time with a professional driving instructor while accumulating your required supervised hours. This instructor will give you their own directions to complete these manoeuvres. The steps described below are just one option for you to consider. The most important thing is to get a lot of practice in the vehicle you will eventually be tested in so you can get a feel for the car’s positioning relative to nearby cars. This practice will allow you to complete the required manoeuvre seamlessly in the practical driving test.
There are specific criteria that you must follow when completing front or rear-to-kerb park in the practical driving test to ensure success.
If the below criteria are not met you will not immediately fail. However, these items will contribute to your errors throughout the test that may eventually result in you not passing the test. You must:
- Park less than 50cm from the kerb
- Not touch the kerb with your wheels
- Be between 1-2 metres away from other vehicles
- Reverse only as far as you need
- Park as close as practical to the required angle and within any marked lines
- Use a maximum of 4 direction changes
- Signal for at least 5 seconds before leaving the kerb or a parked position
The below actions will result in an immediate fail. Although the test will continue (to allow you the full test experience) you will not pass if any of the following occur:
- One of more wheels mount the kerb
- The vehicle rolls back more than 50cm (500mm) from a stationary position
- The vehicle’s final parked position obstructs traffic
In the practical driving test
During the test the testing officer will let you know that you will be required to do a front or rear-to-kerb park. They will always notify you with sufficient time and space to consider and complete the manoeuvre. They will say something like:
“We will be doing a front-to-kerb/rear-to-kerb park. Please park this side of that parked car in a suitable position. Please tell me when you have finished parking the car.”
Depending on where cars are parked in the street chosen for the manoeuvre it is sometimes necessary to conduct the manoeuvre alongside driveways. If this is the case, your testing officer will say, “Please disregard the driveway”, and you may park in front of the relevant driveway without penalty.
The tricky part of both front and rear-to-kerb park is reversing. Driving forward into and out of a park is relatively straightforward. Reversing into and out of a park is far more complex and the majority of the below instructions will focus on this aspect of the manoeuvres.
After receiving the instruction to park, you should make sure you can legally park on the approach side of the identified car. If legal, indicate left for at least 3 seconds before you pull over, checking mirrors and your left blind spot for hazards just as you would when pulling over for a kerb-side stop.
Guide your vehicle into the park ensuring that you don’t touch the kerb, finish less than 50cm from the kerb, are between 1-2 metres from the vehicle identified by the testing officer, are as close as practical to the required angle, and within any marked lines.
When parking at 90° to the kerb, try to give yourself as much room as possible to turn into the park. If you’re turning into a park on your left, it may be necessary to move to the right (assuming this is legal and safe) before turning to the left. This should help you complete the manoeuvre in one motion without having to reverse and straighten the vehicle.
When you are happy with your park, straighten the steering wheel for when you reverse, put the car in Neutral or Park, apply the handbrake, and tell the testing officer you’ve completed the manoeuvre. When the testing officer is ready to continue, they will say something like:
“When you are ready, please continue driving down the street.”
At this point you will be required to rejoin traffic by reversing out of the park. It will be difficult to see hazards and traffic as you reverse from the park so you should observe constantly and move slowly.
You will need to use a combination of the rear window, rear side window and mirrors to look in the direction of travel as you reverse out of the park. The required combination will vary depending on the park and your vehicle. Although you may use reversing cameras and sensors, you must still check mirrors and around your vehicle.
Before reversing, check your mirrors and both blind spots for hazards to ensure it’s safe to reverse. When safe, put the car into Reverse and slowly move backwards, making sure to observe in the direction of travel and use the mirrors to make sure you’re in line with the vehicles you’re parked next to.
As you reverse you will be able to see the traffic in the lane you need to enter. Moving slowly will alert passing traffic to your presence without endangering them and allow you to stop and wait for an appropriate gap that will allow you to rejoin traffic without impeding passing traffic.
When a safe gap appears, continue to reverse and observe. When your vehicle can swing out from the park without touching the vehicles on either side, turn the steering wheel to the left so you swing from the park into the lane. Pay particular attention to the front right and back left sections of your vehicle in relation to the vehicles beside you to ensure you do not make contact. You should aim to turn into the middle of the lane on your side of the road without crossing onto the other side of the road. Do not reverse further than necessary to straighten your vehicle as this can count as an error. When you’re parallel with the centre line, straighten your steering wheel, change gears to First or Drive, and proceed with the driving test.
The video below provides a great summary of the steps required to reverse from a front-to-kerb angled park. Although recorded in New Zealand and designed for audiences there, it is a great visualisation of the process and requirements.
After receiving the instruction to park, you should make sure you can safely stop in front of the car and legally park on the approach side of it. If safe and legal, indicate left for at least 3 seconds before you pull over, checking mirrors and both blind spots for hazards. Your indicator should remain on until you have completed the park.
When in front of the vehicle you’re parking alongside, you should be about 1m away from it with the back of your vehicle in line with the front right corner of the parked vehicle (the right headlight). Being further away from the parked vehicle will make the larger angle parks easier. However, when deciding how far away you can begin the manoeuvre, you must account for the conditions and the possibility that you might turn into the oncoming lane of traffic.
Before reversing, check your mirrors and both blind spots for hazards including cars that may try to overtake. When safe, put the car into Reverse and slowly move backwards, turning the steering wheel to the left as soon as the back of your car moves past the parked vehicle’s right headlight. Continue to slowly reverse without stopping, adjusting the steering wheel based on the required angle of the park. Guide your vehicle into the park ensuring that you don’t touch the kerb (or any other vehicles), finish less than 50cm from the kerb, are between 1-2 metres from the vehicle identified by the testing officer, are as close as practical to the required angle, and within any marked lines.
You should use a combination of the rear window, rear side windows and mirrors to look in the direction of travel as you back into the park. The required combination will vary depending on the park and your vehicle. Although you may use reversing cameras and sensors, you must still check mirrors and around your vehicle. Any park assist devices must be switched off for reversing manoeuvres.
It is difficult to describe the various reference points and visual cues you will use to position your vehicle as they depend on a range of factors including your vehicle and personal preference. Practicing will help you become comfortable with a combination of observation checks and reference points that allow you to park successfully.
When you are happy with your park, straighten the steering wheel for when you rejoin traffic, put the car in Neutral or Park, apply the handbrake, and tell the testing officer you’ve completed the manoeuvre. When the testing officer is ready to continue, they will say something like:
“When you are ready, please continue driving down the street.”
At this point you will be required to rejoin traffic. Making sure to indicate for at least 5 seconds before leaving the kerb, you should use your right indicator to alert passing traffic that you intend to move out. Although you will be turning left as you rejoin traffic, you are effectively merging into the lane (to the right). If you were to use your left indicator, passing traffic would not be able to see your indicator and may be surprised when you begin to move. Using the right indicator is correct in this situation and increases the safety for all parties.
Before moving, check your mirrors and blind spots for hazards to ensure it’s safe. If a vehicle is parked to your right, it may be difficult to see hazards and traffic from the completed park position. For this reason, you should observe constantly and move slowly as you emerge from the park. When it is safe to do so, put the car into First or Drive and slowly move forwards, making sure to observe in the direction of travel and use the mirrors to make sure you’re in line with the vehicles you’re next to.
As you move forward you will be able to see the traffic in the lane you need to enter. Moving slowly and using your right indicator will alert passing traffic to your presence and intentions. Maintaining a slow pace will allow you to stop easily if you need to wait for an appropriate gap that will allow you to rejoin traffic without impeding passing traffic.
When a safe gap appears, merge into the lane and continue with the driving test. When you are in the middle of the lane you’ve joined you can stop your indicator.
Practice makes perfect
When you first start practicing you should park beside a single car without a car second car to confine you. As you begin to gain experience and confidence you can add the second car so you’re ready for all situations on your test day.
It’s important to understand the progress you’re making. As such, you should get out of the vehicle after each park to ensure you’re well positioned. A lot of new drivers end up too close on one side and don’t pull in far enough. Getting out of the car and looking at your park objectively will help you gain spatial awareness and allow you to correct your technique.
Practicing this manoeuvre regularly before your test will ensure you can capably complete the park and are able to effectively manage the required controls (gears, clutch, brake, accelerator and indicator) during the practical driving test.