Posted on Feb 4, 2021. By VALLEY DRIVING SCHOOL

If you’re wondering if parking correctly and safely on a hill is really all that important after your road exam, let us assure you it is!  You may be surprised if we told you questions about hill parking are some of the most searched questions online. We’re not surprised either since drivers need to understand which direction the vehicle wheels are to be turned when parking uphill or downhill with a curb or no curb. Never fear, we’re here to put an answer to it all today!

We’re going to look at uphill and downhill parking today, with smart safety tips for both scenarios.


The main thing to know about parking on a hill is that the front wheels need to be in a position to prevent your vehicle from rolling down the hill.


If you’re parking downhill and there is a curb present, the first step will be choosing a safe and legal parking spot.  On approach to a suitable location if parking on the right, check your mirrors and signal to the right. Complete a right shoulder check and bring the vehicle parallel to the curb, within 30 cm (1 foot). Place the gear shift selector in Neutral, gently ease off the foot brake and turn the front wheels right.  Stop before touching the curb, apply the park brake and place the gear shift selector to Park if you’re driving an automatic and Reverse if you are driving a standard. The same procedures apply if no curbs are present when parking downhill.


 When you’re parking uphill and there is a full curb present, you should follow the same procedure as listed above – making sure you choose a safe and legal parking spot, complete mirror checks, signal and shoulder check appropriately. Once your vehicle is parallel to and within 30 cm (1 foot) of the full curb, place the gear shift selector in Neutral, gently ease off the foot brake and turn the front wheels left. If you are driving an automatic, apply the park brake and you will stick to Park again for your gear selection, but you should choose first gear if you are driving a standard. In both cases of parking downhill or uphill, your vehicle is now using the curb as a stopping point in case your vehicle malfunctions or if another vehicle hits yours, and it won’t move into other traffic.


The difference with rolling or mountable curbs is they are not high enough to stop your vehicle from rolling backwards into traffic.  Therefore, you are to treat these curbs with the same procedures as uphill without a curb and turn the front wheels to the right.


Most of the procedures remain the same if you are parking on a street without a curb. Choose a safe and legal space, mirror check, signal, shoulder check. Still maintain your 30cm (1 foot) distance from the edge of the road and turn your tires to the right. This applies when there is no curb available, or if you are beside a rolling curb or mountable curb. In the event that your vehicle does roll, with the front wheels turned to the right, it rolls off the road rather than into it. Turning your wheels to the right means that if you are parked facing downhill, your vehicle will roll forward and away from the road, and if you are facing uphill, your vehicle will roll backwards and away from the road. Win-win. Apply the park brake and place the gear shift selector into the Park position.


Often overlooked is the subject of securing a parked vehicle on a hill. Regardless of which direction your vehicle and its wheels are facing, you should always apply your park brake before placing the gear shift selector into the Park position in an automatic vehicle. This allows the vehicle to be secured by the park brake and alleviates the shifter lever from becoming stuck in the Park position.

When leaving the parked position:

  • keep your foot on the foot brake
  • choose the appropriate gear
  • release the park brake
  • complete your 360° vision check
  • Signal
  • Shoulder check
  • Move into your desired direction

Many drivers’ first question when they are hill parking is whether they need to turn their wheels to the right or to the left. All you need to do is think about what way will keep your vehicle from rolling into roadway traffic and you should be set!