How to parallel park
Parallel parking will always panic new learner drivers and in some cases experienced drivers too. Many drivers go through their lives avoiding parallel parking and end up always taking the easier option of car parks.
However, like with most things, it’s just a case of lots of practice! We’ve put together a guide to help you master the art of parallel parking.
What is parallel parking?
Parallel parking is the act of parking parallel to the kerb or road. To parallel park, you’ll need to reverse into a space often found in a line of a number of other vehicles. This is most commonly seen on high street locations.
Parallel parking is thought it be one of the most difficult manoeuvres that a driver needs to master. But once cracked, it can be very handy when looking for somewhere to park, especially in busier locations.
When should you parallel park?
Towns and villages can often have a shortage or parking areas, so parallel parking may be the only option available. Nearly all residential roads offer roadside parking, so knowing how to parallel park can be handy when these roads become busy.
How to parallel park
The below technique is general guidance and although the general principal will remain the same, some driving instructors may offer slightly different techniques and reference points.
NOTE:The below is based on parking on the left-hand side of the road with the flow of traffic driving in the same direction as your vehicle.
- To begin, make sure the gap you wish to park in is large enough to fit your car. There should also be additional space of at least half a metre at each end of the gap to allow for movement.
- Indicate left and stop alongside the gap you’re going to park in.
- Slowly drive forward until the middle of your passenger window is lined up with the front of the car that’s parked in front of your gap.
NOTE: Throughout this manoeuvre, it is important to always check your mirrors and blind spot for other vehicles and pedestrians
- When it is safe to do so, slowly begin to reverse while looking over your left shoulder and out of the rear window.
- While slowly reversing, line up your rear wheels with the rear bumper of the car parked in front of your gap.
- When the road is clear, turn your steering wheel to the left (anti-clockwise) one whole turn.
- Check the left-side door mirror to locate the kerb.
- Continue to reverse very slowly while checking the left-side door mirror and also keeping an eye on the rear-view mirror to check the position of the car behind your gap.
- When you can see the kerb in the left-side door mirror you can now begin to run the steering wheel the opposite way (clockwise). This will bring the front of your car towards the kerb.
- Using a full lock, continue to reverse slowly and bring the front of your car into the kerb.
- Once your car is in the gap, straighten up your vehicle in relation to the kerb and road.
- When you’re happy with the position of your car, leave an even amount of space at either end of the gap. This will allow more room for movement for yourself and the vehicles in front and behind you.
Will I need to parallel park in my driving test?
In December 2017 changes were made to the UK driving test. Your driving examiner now asks you to undertake one of the following:
- Parallel park at the side of the road
- Reverse into a parking bay
- Drive forward into a parking bay
Parking can be the disappointment of many drivers on their tests, however failing the task of parking will not automatically lead to a driving test failure.
Your examiner will be looking at your observations. For example, that you’re not too close the cars in front or behind and that you’re a sensible distance away from the kerb.
More than likely, you will be given a minor driving fault if you are required to reposition the car or a correct a minor loss of control. This may include clipping the kerb for example.
You are likely to receive a serious fault for losing control in a significant manner, for very poor observation skills, making contact with another vehicle or mounting the kerb. These would amount to a test failure.
While the act of parallel parking is daunting, it’s a very good skill to have. It just takes time and practice!