Parallel parking made easy
For the most part, many people learn to avoid what they don’t like. We even make excuses why we should avoid it. I don’t like it. I’m too busy and don’t have time. And the ever popular; I don’t want to. Does any of this sound familiar with you? One of the most common things drivers avoid doing is parking; parallel parking to be specific. However, you won’t have to avoid it any longer after you read this!
The first part of parallel parking, or as I sometimes call it – paranoid parking, you need in order to become successful with the park is to choose a space large enough for your vehicle. Typically, you should find a space 1.5 to 2 vehicle lengths long. Once you become good at parallel parking, you’ll be able to park in smaller spaces. Also, when you’re just getting used to parallel parking, use a quiet road to park. A busier road with heavier traffic may put pressure on you and that may cause more mistakes and frustration.
To begin, pull up and stop beside the lead parked vehicle and parallel to it, 1 metre (3 feet) beside and slightly ahead of that vehicle. Signal right on approach and once you stop, select reverse. Your signal and reverse lights will let anyone coming from behind know your intentions of wanting to parallel park. Most drivers would stop to allow you room to park. Other drivers may just drive around you.
After checking all around your vehicle for pedestrians, other vehicles and cyclists approaching, begin moving your vehicle slowly (creeping) in reverse at walking speed. When you can see the rear corner of the lead parked vehicle in your rear most side window, begin steering average speed all the way toward the curb while looking behind you over your shoulder.
As your vehicle reaches close to a 40 degree angle to the curb, begin steering the opposite way as far as the steering goes. As you do that, have a quick glance at the front passenger side corner of your vehicle to ensure its passing the rear of the lead parked vehicle. It generally will miss it with ease as long as you keep the vehicle moving continuously at walking speed.
Since you’re now approaching the parked vehicle behind you and you know you’ve cleared the back of the lead parked vehicle, keep looking over your shoulder at the vehicle behind you. To help you get straight in your space, look through the parked vehicle behind you. This will allow you to use your peripheral vision to know when your vehicle is almost parallel to the curb.
If you have a back-up camera, the time to use it is when you’re getting so close to the vehicle behind you. Do quick glances at the screen to know when you’re getting very close to the vehicle behind you so you know when to stop.
Now you have a choice; you can either begin to straighten your wheels as you continue to reverse, if there’s room, or you can pull forward to straighten your wheels. If you elect to pull forward to straighten your wheels, look through the parked vehicle ahead of you so you can again use your peripheral vision to help keep your vehicle parallel to the curb. Once you’ve straightened your wheels and your vehicle is in the middle of the space, put the gears into park.
To know if you’ve just done a good parallel park, your vehicle should be within 30 cm (1 foot) of the curb. Now you know how to parallel park. As with anything else, practice these skills until you’re confident with them. Turn your paranoid park into a parallel park.
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