When learning how to parallel park, it is very important to understand the basics to be able to practice and learn this exercise. There are a lot of skills that are needed to be able to perform this exercise. These include Clutch control/Break control, use of POM, observations, judgement skills and theory. Ultimately, it is lots of practice that will help perfect this type of reversing exercise. The parallel park exercise is based on these main principles:
- Observation- the learner should have thorough observations at all times around the vehicle.
- Control- the learner should maintain good clutch/brake control of the car at all times.
- Accuracy- the learner should aim to be a metre from the parked car and end up no more than a foot from the curb.
- Judgement- the learner should be able to judge the width of the vehicles, the curb and how to respond to other road users.
- Decisions- the learner should be able to make informed decisions with regards the reverse park and other road users.
When learning how to parallel park it is common practice to only practice around one parked vehicle, in reality- the driver will need to reverse park between two cars. But for safety- one car is only used. The learner driver should imagine the second vehicle, and take this on board when completing the exercise, by not reversing back too much.
How To Parallel Park – Method
When it comes to learning how to parallel park- there is a structured technique that needs to be adapted to enable the learner driver the ability to start performing the exercise. This method is broken down into four moves. These moves are:
- Part One: Line the car parallel to the chosen parked car. Aim to place the car approximately inline and parallel to the parked car and about one metre away. This will allow enough space for the parked car. Once the two cars are positioned inline, the learner should do a thorough check prior to reversing. When clear, the learner should steer a full steer to the left, and bring the bonnet to one O clock.
- Part Two: When the bonnet is at 1 clock, the learner should return the wheels to straight wheels. Whilst looking back out of the rear-window for on-coming traffic and/ or hazards.
- Part Three: The learner then should reverse back, until the back tyre is approximately one foot from the curb- or when the left wing mirror itself, falls over the curb line into the pavement area.
- When the car is positioned a foot away from the curb, the learner should steer a full right lock, to bring the bonnet inline to the curb (parallel). The steering should be done as the car is moving (no dry steering).
- Part Four: The learner should take the steering wheel back to the left (straight wheels) once the bonnet is parallel with the curb. The learner should aim to leave 1/2 car length in front of the vehicle to be able to move forward.
- If the car is more than a foot from the curb, the learner can continue to reverse back 1/2 a car length and then move forward steering to close the gap on the left and bring the car nearer to the curb. NB, make sure a good gap is left to be able to move away safely, 1/2 a car length is recommended. Lots of practice is needed to perfect the parallel park manoeuvre.
How To Parallel Park – FAQ’s
Why do we learn to parallel park?
The learner needs to learn how to parallel park, as sometimes in reality- it is an exercise that would benefit the driver when parking on a busy road. Reversing into a tight spot is actually easier and safer than trying to drive in forwards.
Why not drive in forwards?
Driving in forwards is actually quite tricky. It is easier to reverse into a tight spot, and it is safer. This exercise, once learnt is the best option.
Who has priority?
Other road users have priority. The person reversing never has priority, as they are the ones performing a backwards manoeuvre, which is against the flow of traffic.
What if somebody comes during the parallel park exercise?
If another road user approaches during the exercise, and they aren’t able to manoeuvre around your car, then you should aim to give-way and stop if necessary. Get eye contact with the other road user, are they willing to wait? Is their car slowing down to a stop? If you decide to continue, ensure you do so and complete the manoeuvre in a respectable time frame
Will I need to learn how to parallel park on a hill?
Yes. Nobody can predict the gradient of the hill when you need to do this exercise in real life. The gradient of the hill is very important and should be practised applying the relevant control and observations needed for this exercise.
Why do we only practice with one car?
As this is a skilled manoeuvre, and the car tends to get quite near another vehicle, it is important to remain as safe as possible. It isn’t easy trying to locate two parked cars with the correct amount of space to be able to learn the manoeuvre. This is why the learner driver pretends there is a second car behind them whilst learning the parallel park exercise.
What should I do if there are pedestrians on the pavement?
If the learner drivers see pedestrians on the pavement, they should STOP, and give-way to them. Allow them to clear the area before commencing with the exercise. The learner driver should never wave pedestrians to cross the road.
Why is there a complex steering method?
This manoeuvre is very precise, great control, steering techniques are required to learn it and to become good at it. As the learner driver is reversing around a car, it is important to be in control at all times.
How much space am I allowed to do this manoeuvre?
You should aim to do this manoeuvre within two car lengths from the back end of the car the learner driver is reversing around. The learner’s car counts for one car length. Although- you are able to use the space of two car lengths, it is advised, to finish within 1.5 car lengths, as this is the space the learner driver would have in reality.
Am I allowed to pull forward to correct myself?
Of course, you are. However- you should aim to do this manoeuvre in as few moves as possible. In reality, you would have to move forward to position correctly, so therefore, on learning this exercise, this is also ok.
What is dry steering?
Dry steering is when the steering wheel is moved to the left or the right, whilst the car is stationary. This is not good practice, as the rubber on the tyres can be damaged and the power steering unit can have extra strain on it. When learning the parallel park, it is important to not dry steer and gets used to steering on the move.
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