How To Parallel Park For Beginners | 9 Easy Steps

parallel park

Parallel parking is a driving skill that involves parking a vehicle parallel to the curb or edge of the road. It is a common parking technique used in urban areas where space is limited. Although it may seem daunting to some drivers, with practice and patience, parallel parking can become a manageable task.

In this blog, we will cover how to master parallel parking with ease.

The movements involved in parallel parking include pulling up next to the car in front of the desired parking spot, turning the steering wheel towards the curb, reversing into the space while checking the mirrors and blind spots, and straightening the wheels. Finally, the driver should check the distance from the curb and adjust the car’s position if necessary.

Parallel parking is typically required when there are no available parking spaces that allow a driver to park in the direction of travel. It is commonly used when street parking is the only option or in situations where a driver needs to park in a tight space.

Many people avoid parallel parking because they find it challenging and nerve-wracking. Others may choose to avoid it simply because they do not want to risk damaging their vehicle or causing an accident. In the UK, parallel parking is typically included in the driving test, so it is essential for new drivers to become proficient in this skill.

In conclusion, parallel parking is an important skill for any driver to learn. It requires patience, practice, and attention to detail. While it may be daunting at first, with practice, drivers can become confident in their ability to parallel park in a variety of situations.

How to parallel park properly

  1. Look for an available parking space that is at least six feet longer than your car.
  2. Signal to indicate that you will be parallel parking, and position your car about two feet away from the parked car in front of the space.
  3. Check your mirrors and blind spots to make sure it is safe to back up.
  4. Put your car in reverse, and turn your steering wheel all the way to the right.
  5. Begin to back up slowly until your car’s rear bumper is in line with the rear bumper of the car parked in front of the space.
  6. When the car is parallel to the curb, turn the steering wheel all the way to the left and continue backing up slowly.
  7. Stop when your car is about a foot away from the curb or parked car behind you.
  8. Straighten out the steering wheel, and move forward or backwards to adjust your position if necessary.
  9. Make sure your car is not sticking out into traffic or blocking any driveways or intersections.

When parallel parking, the driver should keep in mind:

  • Be patient, take your time and be cautious when manoeuvring your vehicle.
  • Always check your mirrors and blind spots before starting and throughout the process.
  • Keep a safe distance from other cars and avoid hitting the curb or parked cars.
  • Use the steering wheel and brakes gently, and avoid sudden or jerky movements.
  • Pay attention to the position of your car and adjust as necessary to ensure that you are parallel to the curb.
  • Finally, don’t forget to signal and turn off your car’s engine before getting out.

Will I need to parallel park on my driving test?

Yes, in the UK, parallel parking is one of the driving manoeuvres that is tested on the driving test, and your driving instructor should teach you how to parallel park as part of your driving lessons.

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Your driving instructor will provide you with guidance on how to safely and accurately park your vehicle parallel to the curb, and they will help you practice this manoeuvre until you feel confident in your ability to do it on your own. They will also give you tips on how to adjust your position and maintain a proper distance from other vehicles while parallel parking.

It’s important to ask your driving instructor for feedback and guidance as you practice parallel parking and to practice this manoeuvre regularly so that you can master it before taking your driving test. With practice and patience, you can become proficient in parallel parking and pass your driving test with confidence.

Will I fail my driving test if I cannot parallel park?

If you are unable to complete the parallel parking manoeuvre safely and accurately during your driving test, it can result in a serious fault (also known as a major fault or a “fail”) and cause you to fail the test overall.

The examiner will be looking for specific criteria when assessing your parallel parking, such as keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, maintaining control of the vehicle, and positioning the car parallel to the curb without hitting it or mounting it. If you make any serious or dangerous errors during the manoeuvre, it could result in a serious fault and cause you to fail the test.

It’s important to practice parallel parking as much as possible before your driving test, so you feel confident and prepared. Remember to follow the step-by-step process and keep safety in mind at all times. If you are struggling with parallel parking, ask your driving instructor for additional guidance and practice. With practice and patience, you can master this manoeuvre and pass your driving test.

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How to parallel park with cones

Parallel parking can be a challenging skill to master, but practicing with cones can help you gain confidence and improve your accuracy. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to parallel park with cones:

  • Set up your cones: Start by setting up two cones or similar objects about 25 feet apart, roughly the width of a standard parking space. You can use cones, cardboard boxes, or any other objects that are visible and easy to manoeuvre around.
  • Position your car: Pull up to the cones with your car parallel to them, about a foot away from the first cone. Make sure your car is centered between the two cones and that the distance between your car and the cones is roughly the same on both sides.
  • Back up: Put your car in reverse and slowly back up until the front of your car is even with the back of the rear cone. Turn the steering wheel all the way to the right.
  • Straighten out: As you continue backing up, straighten the steering wheel when your car is about halfway between the cones. Keep backing up until your car is at a 45-degree angle to the cones.
  • Turn the other way: Turn the steering wheel all the way to the left, and slowly continue backing up until your car is parallel to the cones. Stop when your car is even with the front cone.
  • Adjust your position: If necessary, adjust your position by pulling forward or backing up slightly. Make sure your car is centered between the cones and is parallel to them.
  • Practice: Repeat the process several times, alternating between the left and right side of the cones, until you feel confident and comfortable with parallel parking.
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Parallel parking with cones

When practicing parallel parking with cones, keep in mind:

  • Take your time and go slow. It’s better to take your time and get it right than rush and make mistakes.
  • Use your mirrors and check your blind spots to ensure it’s safe to back up.
  • Keep your car centered between the cones and maintain a consistent distance from them on both sides.
  • Use the steering wheel gently and avoid jerky movements.
  • Practice regularly to improve your accuracy and confidence.

By following these steps and practicing regularly, you can improve your parallel parking skills and feel more confident on the road.

Parallel parking FAQ’s

  1. Find a suitable parking space: Look for a parking space that is big enough for your car, with enough space in front and behind the car.
  2. Signal and position the car: Position your car parallel to the parked cars and signal to indicate your intention to park. Leave about two feet of space between your car and the parked car in front.
  3. Check mirrors and surroundings: Check your mirrors and blind spots to ensure it’s safe to reverse. Look out for pedestrians, other cars, or obstacles.
  4. Begin reversing: Begin reversing slowly, and keep your foot on the brake pedal. Turn your head to look out the rear window and keep an eye on the sides of the car.
  5. Turn the steering wheel: Turn the steering wheel sharply to the right when the back of your car is in line with the back of the car in front of the space you are parking in.
  6. Straighten the wheel: Once your car is at a 45-degree angle to the curb, straighten the steering wheel to bring the car parallel to the curb.
  7. Adjust position: Continue reversing slowly and adjust the car’s position as necessary until you are properly parked in the space.
  8. Check surroundings: When the car is parked, check your surroundings once more before putting the car in park and turning off the engine.

Determining the distance between your car and the curb can be challenging when parallel parking, especially if you’re new to the skill. Here are some tips that can help you:

  • Use reference points: Use the reference points on your car, such as the side mirrors or the bonnet of your car, to help you determine your position. You can use these points as a guide to estimate the distance between your car and the curb.
  • Check your side mirror: When you’re reversing, check your side mirror to see if you can see the curb. Adjust your position if necessary.
  • Use your passenger mirror: You can also use your passenger-side mirror to help you determine your position. Try to keep the distance between your car and the curb the same on both sides.
  • Look out of the rear window: Turn your head to look out of the rear window when reversing to check your distance from the curb. You can also roll down the rear window to get a better view.
  • Get a spotter: If you’re still having trouble, consider asking a passenger to act as a spotter. They can guide you into the space and let you know when you’re the right distance from the curb.

Remember to take your time when parallel parking and to practice regularly. With time and practice, you’ll become more confident in your parallel parking skills, and determining your distance from the curb will become easier.

If you make a serious fault during the parallel parking, then you will fail the test. However, if you make a minor fault during parallel parking, you may still pass the test as long as you don’t accumulate too many faults overall (you can have no more than 15 driving faults). 

Yes, you should signal when parallel parking. Signalling is an essential part of the parallel parking process as it lets other drivers know what you’re doing and helps to avoid confusion and potential accidents.

When you approach a parking spot, signal to indicate that you plan to park in that spot. In the UK, use your left indicator to signal when you’re approaching the parking spot. Then, before you start reversing, check your mirrors and blind spots to ensure it’s safe to reverse.

Once you’re ready to start reversing, turn your steering wheel sharply to the right, and begin backing into the parking spot slowly. As you’re reversing, keep checking your mirrors and blind spots to ensure that you’re not too close to any other vehicles or objects.

Once you’ve successfully parked, use your left indicator again to signal that you’re finished parking and are about to move back out onto the road.

Remember, signalling is an essential part of safe and responsible driving, and it’s particularly important when performing manoeuvres like parallel parking. So always signal to indicate your intentions when parallel parking, and keep an eye on your surroundings to ensure that you’re driving safely and avoiding potential hazards.

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When parallel parking, you should aim to leave a space of around 30cm (12 inches) between your car and the curb. This distance provides enough space for pedestrians to walk safely on the pavement and helps to avoid damage to your car’s wheels or rims.

However, the exact amount of space you leave will depend on a few factors, including the width of the road, the size of your car, and the position of any obstacles or parked vehicles nearby. In some situations, you may need to leave a little more or less space than usual to ensure that you’re parked safely and correctly.

Parallel parking is a skill that is useful in many real-life situations, especially in urban areas where parking space is limited. Some common situations where you may need to parallel park include:

  • Street parking: In many cities and towns, street parking is the only available option. Parallel parking allows you to park in a space between two parked vehicles, maximizing the use of available space.
  • Parking garages: In multi-story car parks, parallel parking is often the only way to park your car. This is especially true in busy car parks where parking spaces are close together.
  • Tight spaces: Sometimes, you may need to park in a tight space, such as a small driveway or a narrow alleyway. Parallel parking allows you to park your car in a tight space, minimizing the risk of damage to your car or surrounding objects.
  • Driving test: In the UK, parallel parking is a required manoeuvre during the driving test. So, if you’re learning to drive, you’ll need to master this skill to pass your test.

In short, parallel parking is a useful skill that can be used in many real-life situations, from street parking to parking garages and tight spaces. By mastering this skill, you’ll be able to park your car safely and confidently, no matter where you need to park.

Parallel parking is one of the manoeuvres that can be included in the driving test. However, it’s important to note that not all driving tests will include parallel parking. Whether you’re asked to perform parallel parking or not will depend on a number of factors, including the route you take during the test, the availability of suitable parking spaces, and the discretion of the driving examiner.

That being said, it’s important to be prepared for parallel parking, just in case you’re asked to complete this manoeuvre during your test. So, make sure you practice parallel parking with a qualified instructor or an experienced driver and be familiar with the correct techniques and procedures for performing this manoeuvre.

By practicing parallel parking regularly, you’ll develop the skills and confidence you need to complete this manoeuvre safely and effectively, whether it’s required during your driving test or in your everyday driving.

On your driving test, there are three main manoeuvres that you may be asked to perform. In addition to parallel parking, the other two manoeuvres are:

  • Bay parking: Bay parking involves reversing into a marked parking bay, either at an angle or straight on. The examiner will usually ask you to park in between two cars or cones.
  • Pulling up on the right-hand side of the road: This manoeuvre involves stopping on the right-hand side of the road, either facing uphill or downhill, and then moving off again when it is safe to do so.

In addition to these three manoeuvres, you’ll also be required to demonstrate your ability to perform basic driving tasks, such as changing lanes, making turns, and following road signs and markings.

It’s important to practice all of these manoeuvres with a qualified instructor or an experienced driver to ensure that you’re familiar with the correct techniques and procedures for performing them. By practicing regularly and gaining confidence in your abilities, you’ll be well-prepared for the driving test and for safe and effective driving on the roads.

You’re required to follow the examiner’s instructions and perform the manoeuvres that are asked of you. If you refuse to complete a manoeuvre, such as parallel parking, it could result in an automatic fail for the driving test.

That being said, if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe completing a manoeuvre, you should inform the examiner and ask for assistance. The examiner may be able to provide guidance or adjust the instructions to help you complete the manoeuvre safely.

If you’re struggling with parallel parking or any other aspect of the driving test, it’s important to discuss your concerns with your driving instructor or a qualified driving professional. With the right guidance and practice, you can develop the skills and confidence you need to perform all aspects of the driving test successfully.

The parallel parking manoeuvre can be asked at any time during the test. It’s important to be prepared to demonstrate your ability to perform parallel parking safely and effectively, even if it’s not asked at the beginning or end of the test.

During the test, the examiner will provide clear instructions on where and how to perform the parallel parking manoeuvre. They will usually ask you to park between two parked cars, but it could also be in a marked parking bay or any other suitable location.

It’s important to remember that the examiner is not trying to trick you or catch you out. They simply want to see that you can perform the manoeuvre safely and effectively and that you’re able to demonstrate good control of the vehicle.

By practicing parallel parking regularly and following the correct techniques and procedures, you’ll be well-prepared for the driving test and for safe and effective driving on the roads.

If you feel like you’re about to hit the kerb while parallel parking, there are a few things you can do to avoid a collision:

  1. Stop and readjust: If you’re not confident in your proximity to the kerb, stop the car and readjust your position. Make sure to check your mirrors and blind spots before moving the vehicle again.
  2. Use your mirrors and look out of the window: Use your mirrors to help guide you and keep an eye on your distance from the kerb. You can also look out of the window to get a better sense of where you are in relation to the kerb.
  3. Turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction: If you feel like you’re getting too close to the kerb, turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction to straighten the car out. This will help you adjust your position and avoid hitting the kerb.
  4. Practice regularly: The more you practice parallel parking, the better you’ll become at judging distances and avoiding kerbs. Find a safe and quiet location to practice, such as an empty car park, and take your time until you feel confident in your abilities.
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Remember, if you do hit the kerb during the driving test, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll fail. The examiner will be looking at your overall driving performance, and if you demonstrate good control of the vehicle and can safely complete the manoeuvre, you may still pass the test.

During the driving test, the examiner may step out of the vehicle to check your position and distance from the kerb, especially if they have concerns about your proximity. However, it’s more common for the examiner to use their mirrors and observations to assess your position while you’re performing the parallel parking manoeuvre.

If the examiner does step out of the vehicle, they will usually do so after you have completed the manoeuvre, so as not to disrupt your concentration or cause any safety issues. They may also provide feedback and guidance on your position and proximity to the kerb, as well as any other areas of concern.

Hitting the kerb during the parallel parking manoeuvre doesn’t necessarily mean an automatic fail on the driving test, as it depends on the severity of the impact and how well you recover from it. If you hit the kerb gently and are able to correct your position without causing any damage or safety issues, you may still pass the test.

However, if you hit the kerb hard, or if you cause damage to the kerb or your vehicle, it’s more likely that the examiner will consider it a serious fault and fail you on the test.

It’s important to remember that parallel parking is a difficult manoeuvre, and mistakes can happen. The best way to avoid hitting the kerb is to practice regularly, stay calm, and follow the correct techniques and procedures. If you do hit the kerb during the test, try not to panic and focus on correcting your position safely and efficiently.

The length of two car lengths can vary depending on the type and size of the vehicles involved. As a general guideline, a standard car length is around 14 feet or 4.2 meters. Therefore, two car lengths would be approximately 28 feet or 8.4 meters.

However, it’s important to note that this is just a rough estimate and can vary based on factors such as the size and shape of the cars, as well as any other objects or obstacles in the area. When parallel parking, it’s important to use your own judgment and follow the guidelines and procedures recommended by your driving instructor or the driving test examiner.

If there is a lot of oncoming traffic when you are attempting to complete the parallel parking manoeuvre, it’s important to remain calm and patient, and wait for the traffic to clear before proceeding.

You should never rush the manoeuvre or attempt to complete it in a dangerous or unsafe manner. Instead, wait until the traffic has passed and the road is clear, and then continue with the parallel parking procedure.

If you are unable to complete the manoeuvre safely due to oncoming traffic, it’s better to abandon the attempt and try again later when it’s safe to do so. Remember, safety is the top priority when driving, and it’s always better to take your time and avoid taking unnecessary risks.

There is no strict time limit in place for completing the parallel parking manoeuvre during a driving test. However, you should aim to complete the manoeuvre as efficiently and smoothly as possible, without rushing or taking unnecessary risks.

The examiner will be looking for a safe, controlled, and accurate approach to parallel parking, rather than speed or quickness. Therefore, it’s important to take your time, use the correct techniques and procedures, and remain calm and focused throughout the manoeuvre.

On the driving test, you are not required to complete the parallel park manoeuvre in one move. You are allowed to adjust your position and make minor corrections as necessary to achieve the correct position and distance from the kerb.

However, it’s important to keep these adjustments to a minimum, as excessive manoeuvring or corrections may indicate a lack of control or confidence, and could result in a deduction of points or failure of the test.

Ideally, you should aim to complete the manoeuvre in as few moves as possible, while still maintaining a safe and accurate position. This may require practice and patience to develop the necessary skills and techniques, but with practice, you can become proficient at parallel parking and increase your chances of success on the driving test.

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