Parallel parking is a required part of driver’s education. Since many students have heard it is difficult, they are scared to even try it. While it does take some skill to master this parking maneuver, it is possible to do it with some practice, patience, and confidence. If you remember the following five steps to parallel parking, you can not only do it the right way but also feel comfortable doing it.
Watch the Space
Too many drivers make parallel parking difficult for themselves by choosing a spot that isn’t big enough for their vehicle. Before you even try to pull into a spot, make sure it has enough space that you feel comfortable trying to park there. One great way to see if it’s big enough is to notice how big your car is as you are slowly passing the spot. Will you have enough space to straighten out your car in the spot? Is there space for the cars in front and behind you to get out without hitting your car?
If you see that it will be a tight fit, keep driving. It might take some extra time to find another spot or walk to your destination, but it is worth avoiding the damage or holding up traffic.
Signal and Position
It’s important that you let the cars around you know that you intend to park in the open spot, so turn on your blinker toward the curb. Pull up next to the car you will park behind, lining up your back bumper to theirs. This helps you get in the right angle to pull your car in quickly and easily.
Look and Steer
Use your rearview mirrors and look over your right shoulder to get a clear view of the area as you back up. Slowly direct your car to the back-right corner of the parking spot. As you become lined up with the vehicle’s rear bumper in front of you, start to straighten out your vehicle while continuing to back up slowly.
Center the Wheel
Once you are in the parking space, turn your wheel left to straighten it out. Double check that you won’t hit the bumper of the car in front of you as you finish pulling in.
Center Your Car
Adjust your vehicle so that you are centered between the two cars, making sure that once again, they both have the space they need to pull out of their parking spot without hitting your vehicle.
Once these five simple steps are complete, you can safely exit your car and go on with your business. Learning which spots you can fit into and how to do the steps properly will take time. The good news is that the more you practice, the easier it will become.
If it makes you more comfortable, practice with orange cones before trying to park between actual cars. Stay calm while you park and before you know it, you will be parallel parking like a professional.