For so many drivers, even those with years of experience behind the wheel, parallel parking is something they avoid at all costs. It’s too tight. The curb is too high. Or, there isn’t clear visibility out of the rear-view mirror. These are a few of the challenges you’ll likely face while attempting to parallel park. But, you don’t have to fear this maneuver if you know how to approach it. Here are 4 steps you can take to make parallel parking easier, and ultimately, find it an enjoyable (or, as enjoyable as it can be).
1. Signals are a Must
Make sure you’re using turn signals when preparing to parallel park. If a driver behind you doesn’t know what you’re doing, you better believe they’re going to start honking the horn. At least if you have your turn signal on, they’ll know to maneuver around you or be a little more patient (even if it’s only a few seconds) when you’re preparing to back in. Make sure you signal before you pass the spot that you plan on backing into with your vehicle. Doing this will avoid confrontations, or other drivers trying to sneak into your spot that you found sitting right in front of your doctor’s office.
2. Line it Up
A good trick to help you back into a spot is to line up with the vehicle, directly in front of where you want to park. It will allow you to determine the proper angles to enter. It will also allow you to get close enough to the curb you’re approaching, without hitting it, or surrounding obstructions. Make sure you don’t get too close to avoid scraping the other vehicle. This tip can also help you with alignment, and distancing your vehicle when you’re ready to back into the parking spot.
3. Straight, Angle, Straight, Turn
Many drivers make the mistake of going at an angle immediately when trying to parallel park. Initially, you must make sure your vehicle is straight, and in line with the vehicle in front of you, before you turn it at a 45-degree angle. If you go in at an angle, you’ll end up too close to the curb and run the risk of hitting the curb (or a parking meter) when backing into the spot. Instead, start with your car going straight back, and once the front of your car, approaches the bumper of the car in front of you, you’ll begin to turn at the 45-degree angle. From there, you’ll straighten the car, and turn the wheel in the opposite direction.
4. Adjust as Necessary
Once you are in the spot, you can pull forward to adjust, and maneuver to ensure you’re close enough to the curb. Many people try to adjust the vehicle before they’re in the parking spot. This isn’t going to work. It’s going to result in you being too far/near the curb, or even hitting one of the vehicles around the spot you’re parking in.
A good way to improve your parallel parking skills is to practice. Set up two cones or garbage cans in your driveway and position them to resemble an on-street parking spot. It’s best to hit a couple of cones now while working out your parallel-parking jitters rather than another person’s vehicle.