One aspect a lot of aspiring (or even experienced) drivers dread is when they need to parallel park.
If possible, you might even try to avoid it at all costs.
Not so fast.
Almost all states have parallel parking included in the driving test.
So it’s a must to master it.
Don’t worry. We’re here to help.
Today, we’re going to walk you through the realities of parallel parking. These include:
- Understanding what makes it challenging
- Situations that necessitate it
- Tips to make it easier for you to accomplish
Welcome to your all-in-one guide to parallel parking!
Are you ready? Let’s begin!
Do You Really Need to Learn How to Parallel Park?
With the wide availability of parking lots, parking garages, angled street parking spots, and valet parking, do you really need to know how to parallel park?
Well, if you want to pass your driving test, then yes, you do need to learn it.
Not only that, but what if the only option is to park between two cars parallel to the road, in line with other vehicles.
If you ask us, it’s better to know how to do it and not need it rather than require it and be at a loss.
Besides, parallel parking ISN’T that hard when you know how to do it properly.
What Makes Parallel Parking Challenging?
Parallel parking is a universal challenge for both first-time and long-time drivers.
However, some things make it worse than it actually is. Let’s explore these further so you can avoid them.
Fear and Anxiety
The Zebra ran a poll recently and found that nearly half of their respondents have Parallelophobia or the fear of parallel parking.
Imagine the amount of stress you feel when trying to parallel park but can’t complete it. You’re simultaneously worried about holding up traffic and hitting another car.
Unfortunately, anxiety makes everything worse. It stops you from thinking clearly, which could lead to more mistakes.
Lack of Practice
Parallel parking is a skill. And just like any other ability, you can develop it with practice.
Remember, practice is the mother of all learning. Even if it makes you uncomfortable and causes stress, just start off slowly.
The less you practice it, the longer it will take to get used to the required maneuvers.
If you don’t want to cause inconveniences to other drivers on the road, you can always find a separate location to practice your parallel parking skills.
You can even use cones to mark the places of other cars. This way, even if you hit one (which you’re bound to do in the beginning), you won’t be causing damage.
Making sure that you receive quality instruction is vital to your development.
If you don’t have the correct information from the get-go, you’ll still do it incorrectly no matter how good you are at execution. Worse, if these aren’t corrected, you may form some bad habits.
Poor instruction also applies when you have someone assisting you when you attempt it. If you don’t get feedback about what you should stop doing and get advice on doing it better, you may end up with the same outcome each time.
5 Steps to Parallel Park Your Car
You can master parallel parking in just 5 steps.
Step 1: Choose the right parking spot
Yes, space matters. Parallel parking in a more spacious spot is less complicated when you’re a new driver.
There’s no hard and fast rule about the ideal parking space. It depends primarily on the car you’re driving.
Try to find one that’s about 1.5 times longer than your vehicle, giving you more room to maneuver.
When you’re more comfortable with the technique, you’ll find that you can successfully parallel park in tighter spaces.
Step 2: Position your car
When you’re ready to start, make sure your car is parallel to the car parked in front of the space. An effective way to do this is to see if the two bumpers are aligned.
You also need to ensure there’s enough space between your car and the parked one. Around 2 to 3 feet is good.
Step 3: Reverse into the spot
Before anything else, check your side mirrors. Only start moving when you see that the coast is clear.
Turn your steering wheel all the way to the right if you’re trying to get into a space on your right (if it’s on the left, turn the wheel in that direction). Put your car in reverse and begin to back into the parking slot.
Do not rush. Although you might feel pressured to move fast, hurrying through this step might not be the best thing to do.
Continue to back up into the space until your car is at a 45-degree angle. You can stop when you can see the rear car’s plate number on your side mirror.
If you have a passenger, you can ask them to spot your movement from the curb. Having someone giving you directions from outside the car is a great help.
Step 4: Continue to the curb
The next step is to straighten your steering wheel before you continue reversing into the parking space. Continue to back up until you see your front bumper lining up with the car in front’s rear bumper.
Remember, there’s no need to rush. When you get to this point, stop and take a breath.
Now, turn your steering wheel all the way to the left and continue reversing into the spot. It gets your car into the space between the two vehicles.
Just one more step and you can rest.
Step 5: Straighten and align
Don’t hop out and jump for joy yet.
Before turning your engine off, adjust your car’s position as necessary. You may have to move forwards and backward to ensure you’re parallel to the curb. Having 1ft to a foot-and-a-half of space between your car and the sidewalk is ideal.
Lastly, center your car between the two vehicles. Leave space in front and at the back — you’ll have an easier time pulling out of your spot later on.
It’s also a safety precaution if one of the cars leaves and a new one parks too close to you.
The Wrap Up
And there you have it! Everything you need to know about parallel parking.
Remember, set yourself up for success — make sure you have good information, don’t panic, and practice!
Parallel parking is challenging but not impossible. Believe in what you can do, and sooner or later, you can kiss your Parallelophobia goodbye!