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The 4 toughest manoeuvres for learner drivers

10th Apr, 2024

Learning to drive tends to be an experience of extremes. It can be very satisfying (and even exciting) when you start to get the hang of it, but equally, some of the trickier parts can be very intimidating. Sometimes, let’s be honest, they can be quite scary!

Some manoeuvres can be particularly daunting for learners, and even experienced drivers too – so if you’re currently learning to drive, don’t worry. You’ll probably struggle, but so does everyone else! There’s also no guarantee that all of them will show up in your test, but they may well pop up in your driving lessons in the meantime. So, if you’re gearing up to get behind the wheel again, here are some of the most common manoeuvres you might want to brush up on, and how to successfully perform them without the risk of accidentally scrapping your car!

1) Reversing round the corner

Reversing around a corner is a manoeuvre that generally tests both your spatial awareness and coordination. It’s exactly what it sounds like – you’ve got to reverse your car smoothly around a corner while maintaining control and accuracy.

People often find reversing round the corner difficult primarily because it requires a high level of spatial awareness and precise control. Judging the distance from the kerb and other obstacles while simultaneously steering in reverse can be particularly challenging, and the limited visibility can pose a problem too.

When reversing around a corner, you can mitigate some of that lack in visibility by using reference points like the corner of the pavement or nearby objects to gauge your distance and angle accurately. It’s a good idea to try and practice this one outside of your driving lessons if you can, ideally in quieter areas where you can take your time to build confidence and familiarity with the manoeuvre. Remember, patience is key – take it slow and steady to improve your precision over time.

2) Parallel parking

Ah, parallel parking. It’s not pleasant, but unfortunately, it’s one of those manoeuvres that you’re definitely going to have to use in the real world. Depending on where you live, possibly fairly frequently. It’s so named because it involves parking your car parallel to the kerb between two other parked vehicles. The main challenge, as you probably already know, is mainly in fitting your car in between both vehicles, without or scraping either of them. Some modern technology like parking sensors have admittedly made the job a bit easier – but they still can’t do it for you. (Yet.)

It’s easy to see why it’s so tricky; essentially, it’s driving in a confined space. With practice though, you might be surprised at how much easier it can become. One way you can practice in a risk-free way is to do it with an empty area of road and two cones – that way if you bump one, you don’t have to worry about any damage or costs! Make sure to use your side cameras and check constantly around your car throughout, and of course, take it slow and steady. The accidents often tend to happen when people rush it.

3) Reverse park into a bay

Here’s one for the weekly shop, which you’ll almost certainly use your car for at some point. Reverse parking into a bay requires you to reverse your car into a designated parking space within a car park. One of the primary reasons that so many people find it challenging to reverse park into a bay is because it requires precise spatial awareness and depth perception.

Unlike parallel parking, where the focus is on fitting between two vehicles, reverse parking into a bay requires you to accurately judge the distance from both sides of the parking space. Additionally, the limited visibility while reversing can make it challenging to align the vehicle properly within the bay. That’s not a massive deal if both bays are empty – the problem comes when they’re occupied. Then, you’re threading the needle!

As for the best way to do it, the same general tips apply. Make sure to use your mirrors, keep it slow and steady, and make small adjustments as you go. It might be an idea to practice first with empty bays, which can help you to build up your confidence gradually until you’re ready to try it with a busier car park. And if you are practicing in a public place, don’t forget to make sure that both you and your passenger are keeping a wary eye out for pedestrians!

4) Hill start

Hill starts can be particularly nerve-wracking, especially on steep inclines. This manoeuvre involves moving off from a stationary position on an uphill slope without rolling backward. The difficulty of hill starts mainly comes down to the coordination required to prevent the vehicle from rolling backward while transitioning from brake to accelerator. It can be hard enough to find the clutch’s biting point at the best of times, and when your car is at risk of rolling backwards as you do it, everything can get pretty scary!

So, how do you master it? Well, for starters, you can begin by practicing on relatively gentle inclines, rather than going for a steep hill right off the bat. And don’t forget that any kind of hill start requires a delicate touch.

Start by engaging the handbrake to prevent the car rolling back as you transition from the brake to the accelerator. Find the clutch’s biting point by slowly releasing the clutch pedal until you feel the car start to try and propel itself forward, and then carefully release the handbrake. Make sure you don’t zoom off too rapidly up the hill though, as that can be dangerous enough in itself! Above all, try to stay calm, and keep all your movements careful and measured. Accidents are more likely to happen if you panic.

Those are all our top tips – if you need anything in a bit more detail, to be honest we’d recommend asking your driving instructor! As for us though, we’ll always be around for whenever you’re ready to upgrade your starter car into something a bit more long-term. With more than 40 years of experience behind us, we’re committed to making sure we always get you the very best price. All you need to do is enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our site, and we’ll get you an instant online quote before you can say cash for cars. It only takes a few seconds. Curious to find out how much your car is worth?

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