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How To Parallel Park A Car

Many drivers go to great lengths to avoid parallel parking. It's a road test requirement that strikes fear into the hearts of many learner drivers.

But as with everything else, parallel parking gets easier with a little knowledge and a lot of practice. If you learn the techniques, this maneuver will become second nature to you.

What is Parallel Parking?

Parallel parking is when you park parallel to the road and in line with parked vehicles that are facing in the same direction.

To parallel park, you must stop your car alongside a parked vehicle and then back into the available parking space behind it.

Of course, that's easier said than done, and to drivers lacking experience and confidence, parallel parking can be a challenge.

What Is The Correct Way To Parallel Park A Car?

Struggling to parallel park? The following step-by-step guide will help you to nail this maneuver every time:

Step One: Find the Right Parking Space

Look for a parking spot that is at least 1.5x the size of your vehicle. That should give you more than enough room to park.

Step Two: Position Your Car

Stop alongside the car parked in front of the empty spot. It should be about two feet from the side of the parked car.

Step Three: Check Your Mirrors and Reverse Slowly

Check your rear-view mirror and side mirror to see if there are any cars approaching.

When you're sure there are no vehicles nearby, put your car into reverse and begin turning the steering wheel toward the parking space.

Step Four: Straighten the Car

Straighten the steering wheel as it moves into the empty spot. Keep an eye on all of your mirrors while looking at the front car through your windscreen.

When your car has passed the bumper of the car in front, turn the wheel away from the curb.

Inch into the parking space while straightening the car, being sure to avoid the curb, front car, and rear car. Try to park in the middle of the spot so that there is equal space in front and behind.

Step Five: Look for the Meters

If you live in a major city or busy town, there's a good chance there will be a meter nearby. Keep an eye out for this meter and pay your dues after exiting the vehicle.

How to Exit a Parallel Parking Space

To exit a parallel parking space, reverse slowly while keeping a comfortable distance between your rear bumper and the car behind you. Get as close as you can without hitting it.

Turn the wheel toward the road, check for traffic, and then drive forward. Keep an eye on the rear bumper of the car parked in front to avoid scraping it as you pull away.

How Do You Parallel Park A Car For Beginners?

If you're a beginner, you can practice parallel parking using plastic cones or other obstacles. Just find a quiet spot, place the cones fifteen feet apart, and work on improving those parallel parking skills.

If you're struggling to squeeze into those simulated parallel parking spots, push the cones further apart. Once you learn how to park with the cones set at 25 feet, reduce them to 20, and then to 15.

If you have a large driveway or live on a quiet street, it's the perfect place to practice parallel parking. If not, just take those cones to an empty parking lot.

Once you're confident in your skills, it's time to hit the road, find a parallel parking spot, and get some real-life experience.

It's not the same thing as practicing in a parking lot or outside of your home, and when there are parked cars to hit and traffic bearing down, you're going to feel a little nervous.

The more you practice, the easier it will become, so keep pushing.

What Are Parallel Parking Regulations?

Parallel parking regulations can vary from state to state and you'll find more details in the state's driving handbook. To give you an idea, here are a few rules to keep in mind when parallel parking in California:

  • Your front and back wheels must be parallel and within 18 inches of the curb. If there is no curb, parallel park to the street.
  • Don't leave your car with the engine running.
  • Check for passing vehicles when exiting your car and don't leave until it is safe to do so.
  • Don't park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.
  • No double parking is allowed.
  • Don't park on a red curb or a crosswalk.

Is Parallel Parking on the Road Test?

Parallel parking is always part of the road test and you'll be expected to learn this technique before your examination. You will also be expected to know where you are allowed and not allowed to park.

Can I Fail Parallel Parking and Still Pass My Driving Test?

Driving test scores and requirements differ from state to state. How you are marked in New York differs from how you're marked in Texas, and some states are more lenient than others.

When it comes to parallel parking, you’ll be expected to perform it proficiently to achieve a passing mark.

That doesn't mean you will automatically fail if you clip the curb, but if you hit the curb hard enough to give the examiner whiplash, there's a good chance you won't be walking away as a newly qualified driver.

You will typically be given one chance to parallel park and will be expected to complete the maneuver in just three adjustments.