Parallel parking can be a daunting for many drivers. According to the DIA (Driving Instructors Association), UK motorists struggle with parallel parking the most, with just over 20% of drivers admitting they’re not able to squeeze their vehicle into tricky spaces. (1)
That being said, with the right techniques and a bit of practice, anyone can learn to parallel park like a pro! Whether you’re a new driver looking to build confidence or an experienced driver aiming to sharpen your skills, this guide will give you 10 tips for mastering the art of parallel parking.
Choose the Right Spot
The first step to successful parallel parking is finding the right spot. Look for a space that is at least 1.5 times the length of your vehicle. This will give you enough room to manoeuvre without feeling too confined. Be mindful of any parking restrictions and ensure the spot is legal and safe.
Approach the Spot with Confidence
Approaching the parking space confidently is key. Signal your intention to park, check your mirrors, and scan for oncoming traffic. Slow down as you approach the spot, positioning your vehicle parallel to the car in front of the open space, leaving about two feet of clearance. It’s easy to let the traffic around you fluster and distract you but try to concentrate on parking. The quicker you are parked; the quicker other traffic can get on their way.
Check Your Surroundings
Before making any moves, take a moment to check your surroundings. Look for pedestrians, cyclists, or other vehicles in the area. Make sure there are no obstacles that could block your parking manoeuvre. If other drivers become impatient whilst you’re parallel parking, try to remain calm and focus on your manoeuvre. Read our blog on dealing with road rage, here.
Position Your Vehicle
Align your vehicle with the car in front of the open space, leaving about two feet of clearance. Ensure that your mirrors are parallel with the parked car and leave enough room between your vehicle and the one in front to avoid collisions when you begin to turn.
Prepare for the Manoeuvre
Shift your car into reverse and check your rearview and side mirrors. Turn your head to check the blind spot, double checking no pedestrians or vehicles are approaching from behind. Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and be ready to adjust as needed.
Use Reference Points
Reference points can be the trick you need when parallel parking. Identify a reference point on the car next to the open space, such as the rear door handle. Use this reference point to gauge when to start turning the steering wheel.
Begin the Turn
Slowly begin turning the steering wheel to the right while reversing. As your front passenger-side corner lines up with the reference point on the car next to the open space, straighten the wheel.
Monitor Your Distance
Continue backing up until your vehicle is at a 45-degree angle to the curb (see diagram above). Check your mirrors and adjust as needed so you’re not too close to the car behind or in front of you.
Once your car is at the desired angle, turn the steering wheel to the left to straighten out your vehicle. Continue to adjust your position to centre it within the parking space.
Make any final adjustments as needed, so your vehicle is evenly spaced within the parking space and a safe distance from the curb. Bring your vehicle to a full stop and congratulations – you’ve successfully parallel parked like a pro!
Parallel parking is a skill and just like any skill it can improve with practice. By following these tips and tricks, you can build confidence and master the art of parallel parking. If you need more guidance, take a look at this video from the RAC, showing how to successfully parallel park. (2)
Remember to be patient, stay aware of your surroundings, and practice in various parking scenarios. With time and experience, you’ll be parallel parking with ease.
Liked this guide? Check out our blog on 6 Vital Tips for Safe Winter Driving.
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- The UK’s parking habits revealed – Driving Instructors Association
- How to parallel park, the ultimate parking guide | RAC Drive