There are few things more intimidating for learner drivers than the prospect of parallel parking. It is particularly important for city drivers to develop their skill in this element, and the only real way to master it is through practice. Nevertheless, it certainly helps to equip oneself with some handy hints before setting out to practice this skill.
Find an appropriate space
If a space looks like it might be a tight fit for your vehicle, avoid it. Be patient and find a space you can fit into safely with minimal risk of touching another vehicle or the curb.
Check those mirrors
Don’t start backing into space without checking your driver-side mirror first. If there is someone behind you as you approach a space, begin signalling and slow your speed as you get near it. If the person behind is too close, hold your position and continue indicating. They need to know your intention to park.
Line up your car
Position yourself about two-three feet away from the other parked cars, and parallel to the car in front of your target space. Move slightly ahead of that car, then stop and prepare to reverse.
Enter reverse gear
Check your driver-side mirror once more before starting to reverse. If the way is clear, look over your left shoulder and assess the target space. As you release the brakes and begin reversing, be ready to turn the wheel hard to the left to execute the required “S turn”.
Watch your surroundings
It’s important to be constantly aware of what’s happening around you as you parallel park. You must stay sufficiently far away from the rear bumper of the car in front of the space you are backing into. If you find your rear tyre hits the curb you’ve gone too far. Pull forward a little to give yourself more space.
Turn the wheel to the right
Once most of the rear end of your car is in the space, you need to turn the wheel to the right whilst still reversing. This will enable your vehicle to straighten out into the space. Gradually straighten the wheel as you enter the right position.
The last step is to centre your vehicle as necessary, aiming to be flush with the other parked cars. Feeling nervous about parallel parking is very common for people taking driving lessons. You will only master it by practicing!