Pulling up on the right

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.

What is pulling up on the right?

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.”

What is the examiner looking for?

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:

– Careful observations: you need to use your MSM routines and show full awareness of other road users when pulling up on the right, reversing and rejoining traffic.

– Accuracy: you need to correctly position the vehicle throughout the manoeuvre and show confidence with doing so without instruction.

– Control: some of the manoeuvre will require you to move carefully and slowly, so you’ll need to be on the ball and show careful planning and judgement.

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.

Step-by-step: How do I pull up on the right?

1. Find a suitable location to pull up

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.

– If it’s a tight road, you don’t want to pull up across from parked vehicles—it will make it much more difficult for you to rejoin traffic.

– Try to avoid blocking driveways where you might get in the way of drivers entering or leaving. If you have to, however, you are allowed to do so for this manoeuvre.

– You’ll want to avoid pulling up too closely to junctions, bends or bus stops, as you might end up causing an obstruction or an accident if visibility is limited.

– If you can, try not to pull up behind another vehicle—it will block your view of oncoming traffic when you need to rejoin the road.

2. MSM and correct positioning

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.

– Look at your interior mirror, check your right-hand mirror and follow up with a check of the blindspot over you right shoulder. If it’s all clear, signal to the right.

– Position your vehicle to the right-hand side of your lane, as if you were making a right turn at a junction.

– It’s important not to rush here—wait and see if you need to give way to oncoming traffic. If you have to wait, check your mirrors again. You never know what might have changed!

– Once it’s clear, give your mirrors another quick check and be sure to check your right shoulder blindspot again.

3. Pull up on 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.

– When it’s safe to pull up on the right, try to move in at a shallow angle. If you try it at a steep angle, you’re more likely to hit the kerb, and you’ll also have more trouble getting your vehicle parallel to the kerb.

– You need to get relatively close to the kerb—around 20-30 cm away. Your instructor will have likely given you reference points for pulling over, e.g., “You’ll be parallel once the side of the kerb meets the car’s windscreen.”

– Try to get the vehicle parallel to the kerb and straighten the wheels before you stop. By doing so, you’ll make things easier for yourself when you have to reverse.

– Stop the car, put the handbrake on and select the neutral gear.

4. Reverse and move off

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.

– Start by selecting the reverse gear. Before you start moving, you need to make sure there’s no oncoming traffic. If there is, wait for the vehicles to pass.

– Now it’s time for mirror and blind spot checks. Work in an anti-clockwise movement—check your right shoulder blindspot, right-hand mirror, interior, left-hand mirror, left shoulder blindspot and then the rear window.

– Keep an eye on the rear window as you reverse, continuously looking in all directions for other road users. If you have to stop for pedestrians or cyclists, for example, you’ll have to do your checks all over again.

– Keep your reference point in mind and line up with the kerb as you reverse. Once you’ve moved 2 car lengths, stop the car, apply the handbrake and select neutral. The examiner will tell you when to move off.

– Once you’re ready to do so, select first gear and do your checks. Look at your interior mirror, check the left-hand mirror and look at your left shoulder blindspot. Check for oncoming traffic and if it’s all clear, signal left and move off.

And there you have it! It might seem pretty complicated at first, but once you break it down, it’s as easy as pie.

When would this be used in real life?

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:

– When there are parking spaces on the left and right, but the left-hand side is completely full.

– If there are single or double yellow lines on the left and parking spaces on the right-hand side.

– When there are disabled parking spaces available on the right-hand side of the road.

– When there are driveways on the left-hand side and shops to the right-hand side with available space.