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Parallel Parking Doesn't Need to Be Difficult

How to Parallel Park

When people fail their driving tests it's usually related to parallel parking. Drivers who don't have enough confidence to properly Parallel Park often stop trying and that limits their ability to find parking. Here at St. Helens Auto Body, we have fixed cars damaged due to improper parallel parking and they're usually fender benders. So, here are some helpful suggestions and some actual directions on how to become a better parallel parker.

First off, think of parallel parking as simply nothing more than a lane change in reverse. As you monitor your steering and speed, be aware of the two areas of your vehicle that you need to use as reference points – the center of your vehicle and the rear edge of your vehicle. You will also need to make certain that your intended parallel parking spot is a minimum of 50% longer than your vehicle.

The only reason why many people can't or won't parallel park is because they're scared of hitting the car next to them. They misjudge the available space and think they're too close, too far or at a bad angle and end up throwing in the towel. They also may encounter problems parallel parking on steep hills or in close proximity to trees, mailboxes or light posts, for example.

Here is a step-by-step explanation of how to parallel park the right time every time: 

1.) Drive around until you locate a spot that looks big enough (1.5 times the length of your car).

2.) Pull up even to the car in front of your spot. If your car is either longer or shorter than the vehicle if front of the spot, simply line up the rear of your car with the back of the front car. Just estimate--you don't have to be exact here.

3.) Stop. (Don't rush it, especially if you're practicing)

Directions how to parallel park

4.) While stopped, turn your wheel as far as you can to the right. Don't move forward or back while doing this and keep your foot on the brake.

5.) Turn around and glance out the back of your car.

6.) Start backing up. Your vehicle should commence moving into the spot. Don't turn your wheel away from the all-the-way-right position.

7.) Stop backing up when the right-front corner of the rear car is in the exact middle of your rear windshield.

8.) While stationary, turn your wheel back to the middle position. Keep your foot on the brake

9.) Back up slowly until your car just almost clears the front car and then stop again.

10.) Turn your wheel all the way to the left while stationary.  Keep your foot on the brake. Now continue backing in. Refrain from turning your wheel away from the far left position.

Once your car is parallel, stop and then turn your wheel to face forward again. If you follow these steps exactly, your car will easily place itself into the correct position every time.

Whether you live here in Saint Helens, OR or anywhere else, it all comes down to practice, practice, practice if you want to get good at parallel parking. So, do it a few times in an empty parking lot and pretty soon you'll be a pro at it!

Sources: AAA, California DMV, California CHP

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