Are you learning how to drive and preparing for your driver’s license test?
No matter who and where you are, we’ll bet you’ve already heard people complaining about parallel parking. Parallel parking is so universally despised that we wouldn’t fault you for being scared to learn before you even know what it entails.
Don’t worry, though. With enough patience and practice, everyone can learn to be a pro at parallel parking.
1. Practice Parallel Parking with a Driving Instructor
We’ll arm you with practical parallel parking tips below, but if you’re a new driver, it’s essential to practice this skill with a skilled and experienced driving instructor.
Many drivers go to extraordinary lengths to avoid parallel parking, even if it means parking much further away. The licensed driver you’re allowed to practice with once you have your learner’s permit may, therefore, not be the best parallel parking instructor.
It’s true that parallel parking is tricky at first, but many drivers take a far too negative view of it. You can definitely learn to be good at parallel parking, but it does take practice. A professional driving instructor is best placed to offer it to you.
2. Locate a Suitable Parallel Parking Spot
Always look for a spot with plenty of space — meaning at least a few feet longer than your car — to practice parallel parking. If you’ve never done it before, you may even choose to parallel park in a spot where traffic cones or other markers take the place of imagined cars.
An empty parking lot is the optimal place to start practicing parallel parking.
3. Signal and Position Your Car
Signal to show that you want to park. (Yes, even if you’re practicing in an empty parking lot!)
Slowly drive your car to be parallel with the vehicle in front of the parking spot you intend to occupy, ensuring that your car is at least two feet away from that vehicle.
4. Check Your Mirrors Carefully
Before you reverse, check your rearview and side view mirrors (on both sides) and make sure no other cars are in your way.
5. Reverse Slowly
Now that you’ve ascertained that it’s safe to proceed, turn your wheels to the right and slowly begin to reserve. Keep checking your mirrors.
6. Turn Your Steering Wheel to the Left
Start turning your steering wheel to the left when you pass the rear bumper of the vehicle in front of the empty parking spot you intend to slide into.
Slowly keep reversing while checking your mirrors to keep an eye on the distance to the other vehicles. You want your car to be at a 45-degree angle with the curb.
7. Adjust Your Position
It may be necessary to turn your steering wheel to the right again to make sure your wheels are parallel to the curb. You may also need to adjust your position to ensure your distance to the vehicles in front of and behind you is (roughly) equal.
Congratulations, you’ve done it!
Remember, parallel parking has an awful reputation for a reason — this maneuver requires exceptional spatial insight and calls on drivers to be extremely coordinated.
Many, but not all, states put parallel parking on their driver’s license tests. If you happen to be in a jurisdiction where parallel parking isn’t a required skill on the test, you still benefit from mastering this important skill. It will open up many parking options for you, especially since so many people avoid parallel parking. It’s also one of many skills that make you an excellent driver.
With the right kind of practice, in a relaxed and controlled environment with a skilled instructor, you’ll get parallel parking right. You may even forget that you were ever worried about mastering this skill!