How To Parallel Park
To see it portrayed in movies and television, you’d think that parallel parking was the driving equivalent of brain surgery. While it may not be the most natural thing you’ll do when driving, the difficulty of parallel parking a car is greatly overstated. By following a few simple steps and getting a little practice, you’ll be parallel parking in no time.
For your first parallel parking lessons, try to locate a quiet street where you won’t be distracted or harassed by impatient motorists. You might also find that using student driver magnets helps other drivers to act more courteously while you’re learning how to parallel park your car. Allow your parent or instructor to demonstrate once or twice so you get the chance to see the maneuver in action.
We’re excited to have the following video (courtesy of the Rules of the Road DVD from Vat19.com) that outlines how to parallel park a car:
Once you take the wheel, simply go through the following parallel parking steps:
- Find your parking spot. Don’t be afraid to seek out a spot that leaves you a lot of extra room, especially when you’re just getting started. A spot that’s 5 feet longer than your car should be perfect.
- Check your mirrors and blind spots. Figure out what’s going on all around you.
- Signal to the side of the space and get closer to the cars you’ll be parking beside. Slow down and come to a stop. If you see another car approaching from behind, just wait for the car to pass and wave the driver on if necessary.
- Position your car beside the vehicle you’ll be parking behind. Get close to its side, but not so close that you’ll have a hard time maneuvering without hitting it. The back of your front seat should be lined up with the back of the other car’s front seat
- Put your car in reverse and check your mirrors one more time before slowly starting to back up. Look over your right shoulder as you move backwards and give your steering wheel a hard turn in the direction of the curb.
- Continue to check all directions around your car. Don’t be afraid to stop and move back into your starting position if things aren’t going the way you had hoped. It’s much better to look a little silly than to hit another car.
- Once the back of your front door is lined up with the rear bumper of the car next to you, turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction (away from the curb). Think of the turn as an S-shape. This is the last part of that “S”. As you’re moving into the space, you want to be straightening out your car within the space.
- Continue moving backwards until you’re close to the car behind you, but not so close that you hit its bumper.
- Pull forward a bit to center yourself within the space.
Ideally, you’ll end up 6-8 inches from the curb. In most states, the law requires you to be no further than 12 inches away, though a few states allow as much as 18 inches between your car and the curb. You may find that it takes some practice to consistently end up that close, but it’s not something that you can ignore.
The important thing to remember is that learning how to parallel park your car is only one small part of learning to drive. Depending on where you live and work, it’s a skill that you may almost never even use. Do your best to become proficient, but don’t spend so much time perfecting your parallel parking that you lose the opportunity to practice more valuable driving skills.