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Practice Parallel Parking for your Driving Test

The one part of our first driving test we all dreaded most was the parallel parking portion and even drivers with years of experience still have a problem with it. It really isn’t all that difficult; all it takes is a little practice.

Parallel parking is a situation that is full of potential for collisions, both major and minor. The first step to avoid a collision is to let other drivers know your intentions. When approaching a parking spot, check your rear view mirrors for traffic behind. Drivers behind probably aren't expecting you to slow and stop. Stopping quickly without warning is an invitation to a rear end collision. If a car behind is following too closely, look for another parking spot. Warn drivers behind you by lightly tapping your brakes two or three times. Turn on your right turn signal and slow down gently.

Once you have warned other drivers, slowed to a stop, and determined that the parking space is large enough for your car, follow these steps to park:
  • Pull up within two to three feet next to the car in the space ahead. Your rear bumper should be even with the rear bumper of the other car.
  • Shift into reverse, turn your steering wheel sharply to the right and slowly start to back up.
  • Start straightening the wheel when your passenger seat is even with the rear bumper of the other car.
  • Continue backing and turn your wheel sharply to the left once the front of your car has cleared the car ahead.
  • Once you feel you are parallel with the curb, turn your wheel sharply to the right to straighten the wheels.
  • Stop your car before you hit the car behind.
  • Shift into drive and straighten up your car in the space. You should be no more than 12 to 18 inches away from the curb.

If you live in a location where you have to parallel park a lot, you may want to consider getting a backup warning sensor as an option on your next car purchase. Just remember that they can be unreliable sometimes and don't rely on them too heavily. Backup video cameras are also available at around $100 at some of the major big box stores.

For a video demonstration of parallel parking:

For more information on driving safety, visit our website at http://www.nationalsafetycommission.com/

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