The practical test is a source of nerves for learner drivers across the UK—from the tricky 'show me, tell me' questions to the dreaded independent driving section. The part that seems to strike the most fear in learners, however, is manoeuvres. Practice makes perfect, however, and getting to know each manoeuvre off by heart can help keep you cool, calm and collected when it really counts. So, if you've not yet learned how to tackle the pulling up on the right manoeuvre, you've come to the right place!
In this guide, we're going to completely break down the pulling up on the right manoeuvre: how to perform it, what the examiner is looking for and when it might be used in real-life conditions.
First added to the driving test in December 2017, the pulling up on the right manoeuvre is pretty straightforward. There are three main parts to this manoeuvre: pulling up on the right-hand side of the road, reversing for 2 car lengths and rejoining traffic.
Whilst the Highway Code advises drivers not to park against the flow of traffic, the DVSA notes that there are many real-life situations in which drivers may have to do so. As such, it's important that learners are taught how to perform the manoeuvre safely and correctly. There's a 1-in-3 chance that you'll be asked to complete this manoeuvre during your driving test. If you are asked to pull up on the right, it will sound something like this:
“Pull up on the right-hand side of the road when it's safe to do so...I'd now like you to reverse back for 2 car lengths, keeping reasonably close to the kerb.”
The examiner will be assessing how safely the learner moves across the path of oncoming traffic and parks within a reasonable distance of the kerb. They'll be monitoring whether the learner, after stopping, applies the handbrake correctly and returns the gear lever to neutral. The examiner will also be watching for the learner's awareness of their surroundings as they reverse and move-off.
Throughout the manoeuvre, the examiner will be looking for:
You might accumulate driving test faults during this manoeuvre for incorrect use of controls and/or accuracy or not showing due regard for oncoming traffic.
If another vehicle pulls up behind your vehicle, preventing you from reversing back, then you won't be able to complete the manoeuvre. In this situation, the examiner will ask you to keep on driving and get you to carry out another manoeuvre later in the practical.
If a vehicle pulls up in front of your vehicle, then you'll still be able to carry out the manoeuvre. If it blocks your view, the examiner may take control of the situation and offer appropriate advice.
The examiner will only tell you to pull up on the right when it's safe to do so. As such, it will be entirely down to you to pick a spot at which to pull up. Don't panic and simply choose the first empty spot you can find—instead, apply the same principles as you would when pulling up on the left. We'd recommend that you look for a large space that will give you plenty of room to get your vehicle straight next to the kerb.
Once you've got a spot picked out, it's important that you use the MSM (Mirrors, Signal, Manoeuvre) routine to safely move towards the right.
As a rule of thumb, it's advised that you leave around 8 car lengths from where you've stopped to give way to oncoming traffic to where you intend to pull up. This will give you plenty of room to manoeuvre and straighten up your vehicle.
Once you've stopped the car, the examiner will then asked you to reverse back for approximately 2 car lengths. If you've done as we advised and stopped parallel with the kerb, this should be a piece of cake.
And there you have it! It might seem pretty complicated at first, but once you break it down, it's as easy as pie.
Whilst the best practice is to pull up on the left, there will undoubtedly be circumstances during your driving life in which you'll have to settle for pulling up on the right instead. After all, it's not always possible to pull up on the left.
Here are a few example situations in which pulling up on the right might be your best bet:
Although it's not recommended by the Highway Code, it is perfectly legal to pull up on the right. The DVSA consulted with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) before deciding to include the manoeuvre on the new driving test. If you're learning with an instructor, they'll be sure to advise you of when you should and shouldn't do so.
If you want your test to go ahead, you won't be able to refuse to complete any manoeuvre the examiner asks you to carry out. You can ask questions if you feel like you might encounter problems by doing so, but refusing outright will likely lead to the examiner terminating the test.
You could be asked to carry out this manoeuvre anywhere. The examiner isn't limited to quiet roads and they're also not told to do it on the busiest road possible. It's in their best interest to keep the practical test going on time, so it's unlikely that they'll pick a congested area.
It's certainly true that pulling up on the right can be dangerous during winter or at night—you run the risk of your headlights blinding oncoming traffic. However, just like you need to know how to safely drive at night, you also need to know how to safely carry out this manoeuvre.
In this case, the manoeuvre will continue as you'll still be able to reverse back. When you're moving to rejoin traffic, you'll have to be careful as the vehicle in front of you might be blocking your view of oncoming traffic.
In this situation, you won't be able to complete the manoeuvre. Instead, the examiner will tell you to drive on and ask you to complete another manoeuvre later on in the driving test.
You are allowed to make adjustments during your manoeuvre, so don't wait until it's too late—you'll get a serious driving test fault if you hit the kerb. Keep making your adjustments and re-adjust until you're straight and parallel with the kerb.
It's unlikely that the examiner will have to get out of the car to check whether you've lined up close enough to the kerb. They've probably been doing it long enough to be able to tell just from inside of the car.
It's up to you to choose a place to pull up on the right. If you keep on driving for too long and it becomes clear that you're unable to carry out the manoeuvre, the examiner will take control. They'll issue a verbal command, either repeating the instruction again or aborting the manoeuvre so it can be carried out later in the test.
Given that standard parking spaces are around 15.7ft (4.8m) in length, two car lengths would come in at around 31.4ft (9.6m). The examiner, of course, does not expect you to be so specific—they're not going to get out and measure how far you've reversed. If you struggle with this part of the manoeuvre, we'd advise you pick out a reference point, such as a lamp post or a tree, to help give you an idea of how far back to reverse.
Your driving examiner's judgement will come into play here. If they don't think you've reversed far enough, then they'll likely advise you to continue reversing. If, on the other hand, you reverse further than you needed to, they probably won't mention it—as long as you stop, of course, and don't continue reversing! In either case, it's unlikely that you'll fail.
There's a 1-in-3 chance that you'll be asked to complete the pulling up on the right manoeuvre. As such, you need to make sure that you know how to demonstrate it safely and confidently. Don't ignore it in the hopes that you'll be asked to complete one of the other manoeuvres!
Other than pulling up on the right, there are two other manoeuvres that you could be asked to complete on the driving test:
If there's no opportunity for you to turn right, due to heavy oncoming traffic, the examiner might ask you to cancel the manoeuvre and continue driving— you'll be asked to complete the manoeuvre later in your test. If, on the other hand, you could have moved off during a break in the traffic—but you chose not to—the examiner might give you a driving test fault for undue hesitation.
You can be asked to demonstrate one of the three manoeuvres at any point during the independent driving section. There's no set time specified by the DVSA, so it's entirely up to the examiner to decide. As such, there's no real way of you predicting exactly when you'll be asked. Instead of dwelling on it, we'd suggest you just concentrate on your driving and take it one step at a time.