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How to Parallel Park - 13 Steps to Success

1 September 2021

What is parallel parking?

Parallel parking is when you park your car parallel to the road, usually in a row with other cars. Before reversing into the open space, you'll usually drive alongside the vehicle in front of it. It's often seen as one of the more difficult abilities for new drivers to master, but it becomes second nature with practise and can be crucial once you've passed your test and are looking for a parking spot on a busy street.

Why do I need to learn parallel parking?

Parallel parking permits you to park in a place that would be too tiny if you drove into it from the front. It's normally only possible to drive ahead into a roadside spot if two spaces in a row are empty. A driver can take advantage of a single free spot, not much longer than the automobile, by reversing in. Roadside parking is normal on most residential roads, and in town and city centres where space is limited, parallel parking may be the only way to get a spot.

So how do I actuallyparallel park?

This guide assumes you'll be parking on the left side of the road (i.e. with the flow of traffic).

The directions are reversed if you park on the right side.

While the basics will stay the same, your driving instructor may have his or her own preferred methods and reference points for instruction. First and foremost:

  1. Make sure the parking spot you want to use is spacious enough.
  2. Pull up alongside the area and make sure there's at least two feet on either end.
  3. Slowly go forward until the centre of your passenger-side front window is roughly aligned with the front of the automobile in front of you - assuming it's looking the same direction as you. (If it's parked the other way around, align your passenger window with the back bumper.)
  4. Check your mirrors and turn to see if you have any blind spots.
  5. When you're sure it's safe, start reversing carefully, glancing back over your left shoulder and through the rear windscreen.
  6. Slowly reverse until your back tyres are about aligned with the back bumper of the automobile in front of you.
  7. Apply your handbrake and check your blindspot once again, since as you turn to reverse into the space, the front of your car will swing out into the road somewhat, so make sure nothing is approaching.
  8. Round the steering wheel one full turn to the left if it is safe to do so. Maintain a steady pace while concentrating on completing a full turn.
  9. Begin reversing gently, checking the position of the kerb in the nearside mirror and the vehicle behind you in the rear view mirror.
  10. Slowly reverse until your back tyres are about aligned with the back bumper of the automobile in front of you.
  11. Apply your handbrake and check your blindspot once again, since as you turn to reverse into the space, the front of your car will swing out into the road somewhat, so make sure nothing is approaching.
  12. Round the steering wheel one full turn to the left if it is safe to do so. Maintain a steady pace while concentrating on completing a full turn.
  13. Begin reversing gently, checking the position of the kerb in the nearside mirror and the vehicle behind you in the rear view mirror.

Will parallel parking be on my driving test?

Yes, it's possible. Since the December 2017 revisions to the driving test, the examiner will now ask you to do one of the following manoeuvres:

  • Parallel parking is available on the side of the road.
  • Drive into a bay and then reverse out, or reverse into a bay and then drive out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do).
  • Return to traffic by pulling up on the right side of the road, reversing for about 2 vehicle lengths, and rejoining traffic.

Will I fail the driving test if I can’t perform a parallel park?

Many a student driver's exam has been ruined by manoeuvres, but difficulty doesn't have to equal a failed test. The examiner will be looking to see if you make thorough observations, don't get too close to the parked automobile in front of you, and stop close to the kerb without mounting it. However, it is not uncommon for drivers to pick up a significant defect while performing such manoeuvres. A full blunder or considerable loss of control will result in a serious error and a test failure. So, before scheduling your test, make sure you're familiar with parallel parking.

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