When you have to parallel park, do you get nervous? I don’t think my mother will even attempt it unless there’s a wide open space. Have you also noticed that parallel parking spots are always located in the most congested and inconvenient places? Nonetheless, having this skill can come in really handy. To get things started, here’s a quick video to help illustrate the basics of parallel parking:
Steps To Parallel Parking
Below are the steps that can serve as your guide to parallel parking.
Step 1 – Finding Your Spot
Once you find an open space, let people know your intentions. Put on your turn signal to let people behind you know that you’re planning to parallel park. Pull up next to the open space and make sure your car can actually fit in the spot.
Step 2 – Get Set Up
If you don’t have a good set up, you’re doomed from the start! Pull up next to the vehicle that will eventually be in front of you. It’s best to line up as evenly as you can, bumper to bumper. Stay about 1 to 3 feet from the vehicle.
Step 3 – Back Up And Crank The Wheel
Put the car in reverse, and slowly start backing up. As soon as you start backing up, crank the steering wheel all the way to the right (for a right-hand space – opposite for a left-hand space). Turn the wheel until you can’t turn it anymore
Step 4 – Straighten Up
Once the rear of your car has entered the empty space, quickly turn the wheel back to a straight position, and continue to slowly move backward about another couple feet or so (you should be at or near a 45 degree angle into your space at this point).
Step 5 – Crank That Steering Wheel To The Left
As soon as you think your front bumper can clear the rear bumper of the car in front of you, crank the steering wheel as far left as you can and continue to slowly move back. The front of your car will now swing into the space. Go as far back as you can without hitting the car behind you.
Step 6 – Tweak your position
You should now be in between two cars in your space. If you need to adjust further to the curb, turn your wheel right and move forward. Continue to move forward and back until you’re satisfied. Put your car in park and enjoy your day!
Common Mistakes When Parallel Parking
Below are some of the common mistakes drivers commit when parallel parking.
Choosing A Space That Is Too Small
Sometimes you just can’t fit. Feel free to give it a try, but if you find the space is just too small, move on. It happens
Bumping The Curb
Even the seasoned expert will bump the back tire on the curb. No big deal. Just pull up and adjust. Happens to everyone. When in doubt, pull completely out of the spot and start all over.
Starting in an incorrect position
Actually, the technique to proper parallel parking all starts with getting into a good position. Even before steering the wheel, you need to calculate the distance between you and other vehicles around the parking destination. This will help you in maneuvering your car properly. How? Well, as you will be able to determine how your car will fit into the space available to you, you will be able to calculate how much steering you’ll need to get into position.
Continuing to steer even if the car is not moving
Alright, I’m guilty of this when I was just a novice driver. This mistake is commonly known as “dry steering” and it pertains to the act of unconsciously (or consciously) steering the wheel even if the car does not move. This act affects your ability to park your car efficiently. Why? Well, if you do a lot of steering without noticing that your car is not moving, you can easily make mistakes in your calculation of the space you need to cover while parking.
Forgetting about the blind spots
Here’s another mistake that I commit even now – failing to check my blind spots, which are actually crucial areas when parallel parking. This is dangerous because it will not only prevent you from parking efficiently. If worse comes to worst, this mistake can even end up causing minor accidents. I’m sure you don’t want that to happen. Unfortunately, this very basic thing to do is often overlooked, particularly by experienced drivers. Overconfidence? Sounds like it.
Becoming Flustered And Embarrassed
That leads to poor decision-making skills and bad judgment. If you screw up, don’t even worry about it. You’re not going to get it on the first try every time. Many people get into this “hurry up before anybody sees me” mode. Don’t do that. Just do your thing. If you keep screwing up, just pull forward and start all over. You’ll get it eventually. Everybody had to learn at some point. Yup, even the guy laughing and pointing at you.
Parallel parking is one of the most basic things that drivers must learn, but somehow, it also appears to be the most difficult thing to master.
So if you’re also struggling with parallel parking, I hope that this article has helped you somehow.
Just keep in mind that the more you parallel park, the better you’ll get. So just get out there and get some practice parallel parking! You can do it!
As always, drive safely!