How to: Parallel Park

Parallel parking

Parallel parking can feel like a tricky manoeuvre to master. All too often, it can be one that even experienced drivers try to avoid. Between the small spaces, ensuring the right distance from the kerb, and knowing other cars are waiting for you to finish parking, it can feel like a stressful experience. But it doesn’t need to be. 

Whether you’re asked to parallel park on your driving test, or struggle with parallel parking after you’ve passed your test, be prepared with the best approach to take. Knowing the right technique to parallel parking will give you the confidence to quickly, easily, and safely manoeuvre into parallel spaces on any street.

“This the parallel park exercise. I would now like you to drive forwards and stop alongside the vehicle in front of you. Then I want you to reverse back and park your vehicle within 2 car lengths, ending up reasonably close and parallel to the kerb.”

There’s no need to be filled with dread of hearing these words on your driving test. Simply follow our step-by-step guide to parallel parking, and you’ll feel ready to slot your car into any parallel parking space. This method will work for ANY car, not just the car you are learning on.

Top tips for parallel parking

The first thing to remember is to keep your focus on the rear wheel that’s on the kerb side. The key is getting this rear wheel next – but not running into – the kerb. By focusing on this, it doesn’t matter what you’re reversing around – whether it’s another car, a van, a skip, or anything else – just pay attention to where your rear wheel is.

Step one

Before attempting to parallel park, make sure you choose a safe and convenient place to park. This means making sure the space you’re going to park in won’t be blocking any entrances or driveways, and that you aren’t stopping directly opposite another vehicle or obstruction (which would then make it difficult for other road users to drive past).

Step two 

When you have identified where you’re going to park, check your mirrors before slowing down to stop your vehicle. If there is a car driving behind you – or any other road users who would benefit – use your left-turn indicator to signal that you will be slowing down to stop your car.

Step three

Stop your car on the left-hand side of the road about 2-3 car lengths behind the vehicle you are planning to parallel park behind, but don’t get too close. Put your handbrake on and select neutral.

Step four

Now it is going to be extremely useful to adjust your left-hand side door mirror downwards at this stage. This lets you see the left rear wheel arch of your own vehicle, as well as the left hand kerb – so you have a better view of your car’s positioning. 

Before you do anything, remember POM. Prepare, Observe, Manoeuvre.

Step five

Once you’re ready to start the reverse part of the parking manoeuvre, first prepare – select reverse gear. Find the ‘bite’ point with the clutch, and then put your hand on the handbrake so you’re ready to release it – but don’t release it quite yet.

Step six

Next up, it’s time to observe. Look all around your vehicle, out of every window and in each mirror, to make sure the road all around your car is clear. If there are any other vehicles or road users approaching, wait and see what they do. If they stop and wait, you can carry on. But if it looks like they will go past, then wait until they have gone and the road is completely clear and safe for you to continue.

Step seven

When you are confident it’s safe to proceed, you can then start the manoeuvre. Release the handbrake and watch over your left shoulder while keeping strict clutch control to keep your car moving slowly backwards. Every few seconds keep an eye all around your vehicle for  any approaching road users from the front and behind, and be ready to pause the manoeuvre if needed.

Step eight

When you feel that your rear bumper has just passed the end of your target vehicle that you’re reversing around, turn the steering wheel steadily towards the kerb, while maintaining strict clutch control.

Step nine

Watch in the left-hand door mirror, so that when you sense the left rear wheel is getting close to the kerb, turn your steering wheel gently and gradually away from the kerb to help you straighten your car.

Step ten

Once you feel your car is straight and parallel with the kerb, turn your steering wheel quickly towards the kerb to straighten the wheel. Then stop your car, put your handbrake on, and select neutral. If needed, move your car forwards again, but make sure you give yourself enough space to move off again later.

That’s all there is to it – your nice and simple guide to parallel parking. 

If you have any questions, or would like to book in your driving lessons, send an email to Martin@acclaimmotorschool.co.uk, or get in touch via the Acclaim Facebook page. 

You can also discover a wealth of other tips and advice designed to simplify driving and driving manoeuvres in the Learn To Drive… An Easier Way book.

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