Parallel parking can strike fear into the most intrepid learner driver’s heart – it’s even been voted as one of the trickiest ever driving manoeuvres. It all looks so easy when you’re watching your instructor do it.
But why does it become a lot more difficult when you’re behind the wheel?
There everything you need to know about parallel parking and so master it
What is parallel parking?
Parallel parking is a way of parking a car in a small space that drivers may not be able to drive straight into. Normally drivers position themselves parallel to the car in front of the space they want to park in, then reverse in.
The parallel parking technique
If it’s safe to do so, pull up alongside the gap you’ve spotted to park in and check it’s large enough for your car. You’ll need to leave a minimum 2ft gap (this is approximately the distance between your wrist and shoulder when your arm’s outstretched) at each end to give yourself some wiggle room – and enough room to pull out and drive away.
Most instructors would advise choosing a space approximately 1 and a half times the size of the vehicle you’re driving.
(You’ll be tested on your ability to park within the space of 2 vehicles).
Checking it’s safe to do so, slowly move your vehicle alongside the car that you’ll be parking behind. You should aim to leave about 1 metre of clearance from the parked car.
Select reverse gear – your reverse lights should be illuminated, so everyone knows what you want to do – and take a good look at everything around you.Allow any traffic to pass before you start to parallel park, but remember that traffic may choose to wait.
Look through the rear window and reverse slowly. When the back of your car is level with the car next to you, turn the wheel left towards the kerb and check your right blind spot before the front of your car moves behind the parked car.
Turn so you’re at a 45 degree angle as you head into the centre of the space. Don’t rush or go too fast – and keep looking around you.
Continue to keep an eye out for other road users and pedestrians; at this point the car will have swung out into the road, .
Turn the wheel to the right away from the kerb when the front of your car is clear of the one in front.
When you’re parallel to the kerb, straighten your steering wheel, and you should be parked. Use the space you’ve left in front and behind you if you need to make any small adjustments.
Gently stop the car, put the handbrake on and the gear into neutral when you’re totally happy.
(When you start learning how to parallel park, your instructor should let you practice in a quiet spot with lots of space. As you improve and become more confident, they’ll encourage you to manoeuvre into tighter spaces).