Reverse Parking or Forward Parking? Don’t “Gostan” Anymore before Finding Out

While the predominant element of obtaining your driver’s license in Malaysia encompasses how to safely operate a motor vehicle, there’s also a small allotment on how to park because let’s face it, you have to park your car once you’ve reached your destination. You can’t just stop in the middle of the road and leave it there, though many Malaysians seem to believe otherwise.

Unfortunately, the parking lesson is limited to only parallel parking and not other types of parking that you’ll encounter out in the wild west of Malaysian roads. These include perpendicular parking (commonly referred to as reverse parking or forward parking) and angle parking.

The reasoning behind the focus on parallel parking might be due to the fact that it’s the most difficult type and requires more focus as well as an understanding of properly positioning the car.

Woman reverse parking her car

Nonetheless, the most common type of parking you’ll encounter is perpendicular parking. As the name suggests, it means that either the front or rear of the car is positioned perpendicular (90 degrees) to the edge. It’s the most efficient use of space, though angle parking is the easiest in terms of ingress and egress from the parking spot.

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Reverse or Forward Parking?

There are only two ways to position your car in a perpendicular parking box. You either reverse in, meaning the rear of the car is against the curb, or you drive in head first, leaving the front closest to the curb.

In places like Japan, there’s an unwritten rule that you may only reverse park for perpendicular spots.

However, there’s no such rule in Malaysia, meaning you’re free to use whichever you’re comfortable with. Certain places, though, will display “reverse parking only” signs and it’s best you obey them.

Still, you must be thinking, “Is there any distinct difference between either one, or which of the two is best?”

Well, let’s break it down.

Aerial view of parking lot

Advantages of Forward Parking

1. Quicker entry

If you’re running late, forward parking saves you plenty of time as you just drive into the spot and jump out.

2. Easier for the inexperienced driver

Inexperienced drivers might find it easier as you’re viewing the spot directly and not relying on intimidating side-view mirrors to maneuver. For new drivers, reverse parking can be a little disorienting as they’ve yet to fully understand the positioning of the car based on the mirror’s reflection.

3. Clearer access to the boot

Some perpendicular lots might be against a wall. This leaves little to no space if you’re going to grab stuff from the boot. Forward parking will see the boot facing out of the lot, meaning easier access to the boot.

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Parking lot in a shopping mall

Advantages of Reverse Parking

1. Better maneuverability

You might not know this, but  cars are more maneuverable when driven in reverse. This means that it’s actually much easier to reverse into a perpendicular parking spot.

This is due to the fact that a car pivots around the wheels that don’t steer. Seeing that a car’s front wheels turn, that means it can execute a tighter turning radius in reverse. Hence, easier maneuverability.

A simple example of this would be with forklifts. Ever notice that forklifts steer via the rear wheels? This allows precise maneuvering and sharp turns for safer loading of the weight in the front.

Plus, you might as well get better at reversing because even with forward parking, you’ll need to reverse to exit the parking space. If you choose to reverse out after forward parking, you run the risk of not being able to safely see if there’s oncoming traffic as well. Backing out into traffic is inherently more dangerous.

So, either way, you’re going to be reversing. It’s just a matter of when, not if.

2. Better view (with a rearview camera)

Most modern cars come with a reverse camera. This gives you a much clearer and wider view of the rear as you reverse into the parking spot. By driving in head first, you might not be able to judge low objects such as the curb, small animals, or tree stumps.

The more comprehensive view offered by a reverse camera means you can avoid knocking into the aforementioned low objects.

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3. Safer, quicker, and easier to exit

When it’s time to exit the parking spot, it’s a pretty much straightforward affair of looking for oncoming traffic and just driving off. You won’t have to rely on mirrors and second-guess yourself while watching out for oncoming cars like you would if you opted for forward parking.

Furthermore, in an emergency situation, a reverse-parked car is much easier to head off as you’ll likely be exiting towards the direction that you’re driving off to.

4. Easier access to engine bay

If you’re the DIY type or like to carry out minor maintenance work on your car, clear access to the engine bay is paramount. In the very same manner that forward parking allows for easier access to the boot, the same applies to reverse parking for the engine bay.

Summary

Reverse parking might be a little harder to get accustomed to, especially for new drivers. Nonetheless, even with forward parking, you’ll eventually have to throw it into Reverse to get out of the parking spot.

Therefore, the safest conclusion would be to practice reverse parking and get the hang of it. Once you do, you’ll realize that it does carry more advantages over forward parking.

Still, there might be situations that require you to park a certain way. In that case, it’s best to go with the safest or most obvious option.

Whichever way you go with, remember to park well within the marked parking box because nobody likes being made famous on the Stupid Parking Idiots Facebook page.