Use The Right Gestures To Help Reverse Parking

Reverse parking can be tricky, so if you've got a fellow passenger it's often tempting to ask them to guide you from outside the car. But there's definitely a right and a wrong way to do it.

We started discussing reverse parking in the Allure offices this morning after Mark over at Kotaku posted a story about a Sydney student Gibson Hu, who rigged up an automated reverse parking assistance device using a Kinect. Some cars also include reverse parking cameras, but most drivers rely on their own skills and occasional assistance. (Regular readers will know I don't drive myself, but this was a point absolutely everyone agreed on.)

There was also broad agreement amongst Allure's drivers that the least useful thing to do is to circle your hands in a vague accelerating gesture, and then suddenly yell and scream loudly when you think the person is too close. Mark was particularly vocal about this: "It's completely useless. You see their hands spinning so you think you need to accelerate, then suddenly they're screaming like a lunatic."

A better approach is to use your hands to show the estimated space the car has left before it will bump into the next vehicle (or the kerb). Elly (the voice of common sense around here) definitely supports this method.

What method do you prefer? And what tricks do you use to ensure reverse parking works? Share your thoughts in the comments, and we'll bring the best together in a future post.


    I thought that was common sense!
    And who seriously thinks "acceleration" is required when parking?

    Generally when reversing somewhere my Dad taught me to stand somewhere the driver can see you in their mirror.

    Then hold your hands up as though you caught a fish "this big".

    Then as the car reverses and the gap closes, you bring your hands closer indicating how much gap remains.

    Then give a big loud clap to indicate STOP!

    Thanks Dad!

    reverse parking really isnt that hard.
    protip: if your crap at it, do it more for practice and youll become better at it! omg, who would have thought!

      I was thinking the same thing...

        Same here...

    Blindspot mirrors. $3 from any car accessory shop.

    Verbal cues really annoy me. I've had 'big fish/little fish' go wrong when the person shows 'big fish' for ages then instantly goes from 'tuna' to 'minnow' in about 0.5 seconds.

    This is what I ask people to do when they're helping me park:

    Right hand: move in a clockwise / anti-clockwise circle which indicates to the driver which way they should be turning the wheel.

    Left hand: a beckoning gesture which means 'come closer', then a flat palm facing driver for 'stop'.

      used that for some other drivers in the past, depends on the size of the vehicle. A lot of social drivers wont get your signals where as everyone gets the big fish little fish scenario (although i do agree it can be misused.)

    Easiest way was when I was working as a short haul delivery/truck driver.

    The holding your hands up showing the fish was "this big" method is a fantastic method and anyone who uses it should be applauded.

    In terms of directing the driver with a trailer always use left hand down and right hand down, and straighten up in between.
    "Left Hand Down" should push the trailer right.
    "Right hand down" should push the trailer left.
    If your driver is experienced with trailer backing, a "straighten up" signal will involve a slight turn of the wheel in the opposite direction to line the trailer up with the vehicle.
    Then proceed with a finger or audible signal to head straight back.

    I have found from experience if a driver is competently skilled you only need to direct them to start with and at the very end of a backing situation, the rest is easy.

      Must be a truck driver thing :)
      My dad also taught me the exact same things (he is mainly a bus driver, but has driven other heavy vehicles in the past).
      We have an angled, steep driveway, which at some point housed 4 cars, 2 buses, a caravan, and a trailer so it was always a mission to wedge myself in there too... fun when you're a learner driver and he won't let you drive in, you HAVE to reverse in...

      LHD, RHD always works, no-one can get confused as to "whose left?!" or anything....

      Both my parents have heavy vehicle licenses, and dad has been driving as a profession of some sort for years, there are a heap of not necessarily "road rules", but just practical tips that they taught me, was a lot to take in when learning, but am glad I did.
      Although driving around a capital city at peak hour every day has eroded a lot of the more courteous driving habits they taught me :S

    I've the habit of standing right next to the car behind the spot. After all, the parker won't want to hit you... right?

    There is NO way I'm looking going to like a pair of old codgers with someone flapping their wings on the footpath.

    It's not that hard.... and why do you need someone else to tell you which way to turn the steering wheel????

    +1 for Morf and Fiona's method: "left hand down", "right hand down". Just the other day I directed a fire truck to back up to the edge of a fireline [Bulgana], around stumps/trees and in the smoke/dark - worked perfectly. I reverse into a carpark whenever I can.

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