Parallel parking is a difficult task that many drivers fear. Concerns about holding up traffic and denting other parked cars can cause people to look for more accessible parking elsewhere, even if it means a long walk to their final destination.
Even though it is no longer required on many licensing road skill tests, knowing how to parallel park is still important and should be practiced along with your drivers ed course. This is especially true if you drive somewhere where street parking is common. Learning how to parallel park takes patience and practice, but once you learn, you will appreciate how useful this technique is.
Parallel Parking Step-by-Step
The first step in parallel parking is to locate a parking space. You must ensure the space is slightly longer than your vehicle. In general, the space between the other two parked cars should be at least 16 inches longer than your vehicle. The bigger the space, the easier it is to park in.
Once you have located a suitable space, follow these steps:
Pull alongside the parking spot and turn on your indicator light to signal you are parking.
Look in your mirrors to make sure it is safe to park.
Pull your car up alongside the vehicle parked in front of your space, staying about 16 to 24 inches away from, and parallel to it.
Stop, put your car in reverse, and look over your right shoulder behind you.
Turn the wheel completely to the right and start slowly backing up.
As your car swings in toward the curb, keep the steering wheel turned to the right until the rear driver’s side corner of your vehicle is in line with the front driver’s side bumper of the car behind you.
At this point, begin turning the steering wheel in the opposite direction while continuing to back up.
As you pull into the parking space, straighten the wheels of your car, and pull forward or backward as needed to leave a space in front and behind your car.
Before you set the parking brake, be sure your wheels are within 12 inches of the curb. If they aren’t, you may need to pull the car forward and back in again while turning the steering wheel to get closer.
Exiting a Parallel Parking Space
To drive out of a parallel parking space, start by backing up as close as possible to the car behind you, without touching it. Then drive forward while turning the steering wheel to the left, and slowly exit. Remember to use your turn signal to indicate you are exiting the space so other drivers know what you are doing.
Practicing Parallel Parking
Parallel parking does take some practice. Find an empty parking lot or street to practice on, using traffic cones or other markers to indicate where the other cars would be. Take your time and practice on several occasions until you are comfortable with this parking technique. The next time you look for parking on a busy street, you will be glad you have mastered this useful