Reversing reverse parking (update)

Back in 2013, I gave a rare nod of praise to the Newman government for a proposal to get rid of reverse parallel parking in the test for new drivers. I’m happy to say that this has actually happened. The new test will focus on safe driving, rather than on skills that might come in handy for drivers, like reverse parking or changing the oil.

The original post is over the fold

Reversing reverse parking

It’s safe to say that, little as I expected of the Newman government, the reality has generally been worse. Still, I’m going to give them credit on whenever it seems due, and here’s the first thing they’ve done that I can happily support. Following the recommendations of a study commissioned by the previous Labor government, it’s planned to drop the reverse parking component of the Queensland driving test. Ever since I failed my first driving test on this score 40 years ago, I’ve regarded it as a piece of utter stupidity. Why should anyone else be concerned whether I can reverse park, any more than they should care whether I can change my own oil? If anything, the worse I am at parallel parking, the better for everyone else – not only do I leave more spots for them, but they don’t face the risk of being jammed in a spot by someone who has skilfully parked their car with millimetres to spare.

This seems absolutely obvious. But, to give the contrary view, I turn the mike over to Paul Turner from motoring body RACQ, who manages to ignore the obvious contradictions in his statement.

“What we want is safer drivers, so we think the more it leans to a strengthening of the licensing system, the better,” Mr Turner said.

He said although reverse parking did not carry a high crash risk, it was still a “technical skill” that deserved a place in the driving test.

I’d suggest that a more relevant “technical skill” would be a stiff test in formal logic. That would clear an awful lot of bad drivers off the road.

42 thoughts on “Reversing reverse parking (update)

  1. JQ,

    As is so often the case, the media isn’t necessarily telling you the truth.

    … a proposal to get rid of reverse parallel parking in the test for new drivers. I’m happy to say that this has actually happened.

    Except, it hasn’t actually happened.

    Fortunately, in the new testing procedures: “1 of the manoeuvres must have a reversing component.”

  2. I don’t think how good one is at reverse parking is an indicator of how good one is generally as a driver. Reverse parking is an optional extra. Nobody has to reverse park. Anyway, self-driving cars will soon be able to reverse park themselves. Some can do it now.

    I was good enough at reverse parking once but I don’t use the skill any more so I would be out of practice. I can still reverse trailers well. My wife could never reverse park for nuts yet was and remains an excellent driver with a (slightly) better record than yours truly.

    Anyone else notice that at 60 plus, craning the neck right around gets harder?

    So far as logged hours of driver tuition go, 100 hours is plenty. I noticed my kids became quite competent around the 70 – 80 hours level and this is even with getting bonus hours from formal tuition. Requiring more than 100 hours, if they contemplate that, would be a darned waste of petrol and another cause of global warming.

  3. I’d be ok with giving a little bit more leeway on the test, but definitely not removing it completely. Enjoy the dents and scratches QLD.

  4. @Megan

    “One of the manoeuvres must have a reversing component.”

    That’s fair enough. Probably the abilities to reverse down a lane-way or driveway and to do a three-point turn (Americans call it a K-turn) are more important.

  5. David, I’ve done plenty of driving tests, I’ve just never actually passed one. However, I haven’t let my failure in this area hold me back and I even once taught a person how to drive and so far they’ve only hit one or two things.

  6. Regular driving tests are for wimps. When my son was working in security at the British Embassy in Paris, down the street from the Elysée, he was offered (but did not take up) a place on a driving course run for French ministerial drivers. This went some way beyond standard police courses. It was very expensive, as the fee included the cost of writing off a car driven at full speed through a road block.

    BTW, reverse parking is headed for extinction, like double de-clutching. The latest car models do it automatically.

  7. Queen Elizabeth II’s sole professional qualification dates back to her wartime WAAC service. She held an HGV (truck) driving licence then. Technically she does need one as Sovereign, and any licence she held would have expired at age 70 unless retested. I don’t know if she still reverses horse trailers. Truck driving in the blackout was really quite demanding.

  8. @James Wimberley

    What are you talking about? She is professionally qualified by birth (hereditary title) to be rich and useless, to have a whole rich and useless family and to lecture her subjects in Christmas messages about tackling world poverty.

  9. Julie Thomas ‘ great story reminds me that my father, a British WW2 navy veteran, never drove. Well, I nevrer knew him to drive: I think he got a licence when he came to Australia, and while he had no great psychological scars from the war, my mother used to day he was just a terrible nervous driver who voluntarily gave it up., leaving it up to her to be the family driver. Given that he found the driving in Brisbane of the 50’s too stressful, he must have had a low driving stress threshold!

    I generally don’t enjoy reverse parking (who does?), but there is a special, sort of unexpected, joy when you manage to fluke it first go…

  10. @Steve from brisbane

    Yep that sounds like my mothers father; it seems to me that he wasn’t suffering from PTSD but possibly he is the earliest identifiable ‘aspie’ type person on her side of the family and he simply didn’t want to learn certain things that he didn’t like and so he just refused.

    Mum said he had to drive the truck once and he did but he drove all the way in first gear. I am wincing just thinking of that poor motor.

  11. Salient Green :
    I am very good at reversing. 35 years as an orchardist has given me a lot of practice at going backwards!

    I also learned to drive on a farm, and can back trailers and other things pretty well. At least when I used to drive – living in the inner city it’s a skill like fencing – I know I used to be able to do it, but I suspect that if I had to do it again I’d suck.

    A friend used to have a 6m long bus (converted to camper) that was great for parking because you could see all the bumpers and down both sides of the vehicle in the mirrors. The steering lock was also dramatic. So it was quite possible to parallel park it with less than half a metre plus the actual length of the bus. Which was very handy, since a standard parking space is about 6m long… we could park that thing anywhere.

  12. Reverse parking is an important skill, though not an essential one. In Australia that is. For Europe and Asia, though, grabbing a spot quickly is a vital ability, and this is reflected in their driving tests. Here for instance are young Chinese drivers doing the parking section of their driving test.

  13. For anyone not so good at parking, this will make you feel better about your self (some people can’t even do it frontwards).

  14. @Julie Thomas
    Great story. My grandmother was a widow, and had to do the driving for the household. I remember being concerned—as a young passenger—when we travelled along a stretch of open rural road, doing 60kph, while everyone else was trying to pass us at 100kph! At least we had seatbelts.

    Streuth, I feel heaps better ’bout my driving now.

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