Learning to drive isn’t always easy.
With preparation for the practical test taking around 45 hours of driving lessons, plus 20 hours of independent driving – with a licenced driver in the car – it takes a while to truly master the art of driving.
There are some manoeuvres that are particularly difficult for new drivers, but taking the time to get this right will really help you in the long run.
Read on to find out the 5 driving manoeuvres that new drivers need to learn so that they can excel on the roads and pass their driving test with flying colours.
An emergency stop is a safety measure which you need to know how to perform if you are a new driver or soon to take your test.
You may need to perform an emergency stop if you need to respond to an unexpected situation or development to avoid a collision.
For learner drivers, it is important that you know how to perform an emergency stop so that you can build confidence in your driving ability.
If you are asked to perform one by an examiner, they will be looking for a demonstration of safe, efficient and controlled driving.
Try to stay calm and be aware of your surroundings by checking your mirrors and looking ahead so that you can anticipate the actions of other road users.
An emergency stop can do real damage to your car, so it should only be done when completely necessary.
To perform an emergency stop, apply the brakes with maximum pressure. You should press down on the brake pedal firmly – press as hard as possible without locking the wheels to reduce the likelihood of skidding.
Keep the car in a straight line, gripping the steering wheel with both hands until the vehicle reaches a complete stop.
If you can do so safely during an emergency stop, you can shift the car into a lower gear to help the car to slow down without skidding.
If the car is older then it may be equipped with a manual emergency brake, which you can use this in combination with the brakes to stop the car.
The thought of having to parallel park rarely fills drivers with joy, but it is easier to do than you might think - and it will likely come up in the test.
Parallel parking involves parking your vehicle parallel to the road, usually in a line of other vehicles.
In the practical test, you may have to drive your vehicle next to the vehicle in front of the space you want to park in, before you reverse in.
The examiner will be thinking about your coordination, precision and control. In other words, the examiner will monitor how often you check your mirrors and blind spots, how aware you are of your surroundings, and how steady you are with steering.
Make sure that your steering is precise so that you don’t hit the kerb or miss it by miles.
Don’t be afraid to take your time so that you can stay in full control of your car.
You don’t even need to complete the manoeuvre in one smooth motion – you can switch to first gear and move back to your point of turn if you need to.
During the test, you should remember to carry out a six-point check involving mirror, signal, mirror, looking above your shoulder and then driving when it is safe to do so.
Try and stop your car a little ahead of the vehicle you pull up beside – if you’re too close you could collide with the other car. Aim to leave about a metre between you and the other car.
Once you have stopped, cancel the indicator and select the reverse gear – the reverse lights will let other drivers know what you are doing.
Wait until traffic clears so that you can avoid any added pressure. You can then move the car slowly using your clutch. If anyone is approaching, you can use your left indicators to let other drivers know what you are doing.
You should pay attention to your reference point when reversing and remember when it is time to turn your wheel.
If you are asked to parallel park during your driving test, make sure that you stop for pedestrians and any hazards. You should only resume the manoeuvre when it is safe to do so.
Whilst you may not need to do a three-point turn during your driving test – it was removed as one of the reversing manoeuvres in 2017 - it is still important that you know how to do one.
A three-point turn is a means of turning the vehicle around on the road. It is the standard method used to turn a car to face the opposite direction on a road which is too narrow to complete a U-turn on.
You should practice this move on a road which is quite wide and flat, and away from junctions, driveways and parked cars.
Pull over to the left-hand kerb and carry out the usual observation checks behind you, and make sure that the road is clear ahead. Don’t forget your blind spot.
When it is safe to do so, indicate right, and move slowly forward whilst steering rapidly and to the right.
Accelerate gently until the front of your vehicle is close to the right-hand kerb of the road.
Apply your brakes and stop the car about a metre from the kerb – this is the first point in your turn.
Check around you again to make sure that no other road users have appeared. If it is clear, you can select reverse gear and slowly turn your steering wheel fully to the left.
Edge backwards towards the side of the road you started on. This is the second point.
Once you have reversed enough to be able to drive forwards safely, stop the car and check again that there are no road users nearby.
If it is safe to do so, select first gear and move off – make sure that you turn your steering wheel to the right slightly to help you straighten up quickly. This is the third point.
Learning how to safely enter or exit a parking bay that you will likely encounter at any UK car park is a skill worth mastering.
As one of the three possible manoeuvres in the practical driving test, you should spend some time practicing this move.
There are two types of bay parking which can be challenging for new drivers.
Forward Bay Parking
Forward bay parking is when you drive into a parking bay and then reverse out.
To forward bay park using reference points, you should first choose a parking bay which can fit your vehicle.
Assuming that you are parking on the right side of the bay, you can gradually position your car on the left side of the parking bay and find your reference point – the right-hand line of the bay should line up just below your right-wing mirror.
Make sure that you give yourself enough room to enter the bay safely.
Check your mirrors and blind spots and then put your indicator on to let other road users know that you are trying to park.
If there are no pedestrians or road users nearby, then you should steer quickly and put a full lock right on the steering wheel.
Straighten up using the steering wheel so that the dashboard is in line with the horizon.
Move slowly into the bay until the kerb or line marking the front of the space comes under your right wing mirror.
Stop your car and apply the handbrake to complete the manoeuvre.
Reverse Bay Parking
Reverse bay parking is when you reverse into a parking bay and then drive out.
You should pick a parking bay which can fit your vehicle, and then position your vehicle towards the centre of the road. You should pull up about two car lengths beyond the bay you choose.
Check that there are no road users nearby, looking at both sides and in the rear-view mirror for pedestrians and approaching cars.
Put your car in reverse gear and slowly reverse your car up to the point of turn. Make sure that you check your blind spots and rear-view window throughout the process.
Assuming you are reverse parking on the left side, you can then steer full lock left and slowly move the vehicle into the bay.
Check your left-wing mirror – you should see the left line of the parking bay appear. Check your right-wing mirror for the right line of the parking bay.
Straighten the steering wheel as the car becomes parallel with the white lines of the parking bay.
Keep reversing slowly into the bay, avoiding any walls, kerbs or other cars.
You can drive forward to readjust your position before reversing if needed. Once you are wholly in the bay, you can put the gearbox in neutral and pull up the handbrake.
When you leave the bay, check all the blind spots and make sure you know the point of direction to exit.
Pull out slowly – wait until a third of your vehicle is out of the bay before turning the steering wheel to the point of exit.
If either of these manoevures come up during the practical test, know that the examiner will be looking out for your control, accuracy and observation.
Try to avoid choosing a bay close to any neighbouring vehicles.
Know that you cannot drive through the first parking bay to the one in front of it during forward bay parking on the test, and you cannot reverse into a second bay behind you when reverse bay parking.
Which manoeuvre did you struggle with most as a new driver? Let us know in the comments below.
Can I Refuse to Complete a Parallel Park?
When Would You Need to Do an Emergency Stop?