Your side or mine?
Growing up in my hometown has been great. We’ve got lots of parks, malls and historical sights. I’ve learned a lot living here. One thing I’ve learned is that visitors have a hard time with where we park on the street. People visiting from out of town get confused when they see a vehicle parked facing the oncoming traffic…the “wrong” side.
I’ve often wondered why people do this. Is it because they’re lazy to walk across the road after they’ve parked? Or is it because their parents have done it and they’ve copied them? Whatever the reason, is it worth it? I’ve had students over the years ask me which side to park on when I’ve asked them to pull over and park. I usually reply, “Which side of the road do we drive on?” and that normally works, but I also have to further explain the reason why.
One of the basic rules of the road is “drive to the right side of the road centre”. This would also apply to which side of the road you park on. Here’s the problem with facing the wrong direction while parked. Let’s say you’ve parked on the left side so your driver’s side was at the sidewalk. As you were parked, a larger vehicle or a vehicle with tinted windows parks right in front of you. Now you can’t see through it to know if someone is coming from the opposite direction. In order for you to see if someone is coming, you’ll have to move your vehicle halfway into the oncoming lane. What if the oncoming driver glanced away from your direction for a moment? Can you say “crunch”?
When I train new instructors, they constantly make comments about how drivers are parked. In my opinion, the riskiest parking is when drivers park on the wrong side on a busy street. Why are they doing it? I really can’t think of any good reason. Thinking like a driver has to come into play here, rather than doing things from habit. To be honest, it’s far quicker to park on the right side of the street and walk across the road and then walk back to your vehicle to drive away. This means you only need one direction of traffic to be clear to leave your parking space. Now, doesn’t that sound easier?
Let’s talk about parking in residential areas. How difficult is it to turn your vehicle around so you’re always facing the way you drive? When I park on the road I will turn my vehicle around so it faces the proper direction. How long do you think this takes me? Roughly 15 to 20 seconds to do the 3-point turn. Is it worth the risk of facing the wrong direction just to save 20 seconds? I didn’t think so.
There are always two sides to every story, but only one side of the street we should park on!