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How to Parallel Park Properly

I've found a lack of proper information about how to parallel park. Most articles out there don't have diagrams and measurements. Note that the measurements found in this article might not be the same at every traffic department or driver's license testing centre. This article is mainly geared towards those living in South Africa, but you might want to continue reading even if you don't reside here.

I'm assuming you want to know how to parallel park in order to pass the driver's test, because virtually nobody I know uses it outside of the yard; they're either too scared of hitting something or they forgot how. Doing it in real life is different, because in real life there are things called cars, and they cost a lot of money.

The test starts off in the bay allocated for you on the yard. Let's say the space you need to get into is to the right, as shown in the following diagram:

Reversing in from the left.

The dimensions of the space you need to get into are about 7m long (275 in) and 2.6m wide (102 in) and your wheels mustn't be more than 45 cm (17, 7 in) from the kerb when you complete the manoeuvre. You also mustn't be too close to the fist pole when you start. Remember to go slowly, and turn fast so that you have more time to react and adjust if necessary. According to the rules nowadays (K53) you don't have to straighten the wheels once you're in the bay, whereas you had to in the past. It makes it easier to get back out. You have two attempts for the parallel park, and you have to complete the parallel park in three moves upon entry. You have unlimited moves to get out of the bay.

How to Parallel Park

1. Check your mirror, look at your right blind spot, and indicate right.

2. Do your full observation; mirror, right blind spot, mirror, left blind spot, and mirror.

3. Start going in reverse slowly, and immediately do an opposite blind spot check (blind spot left).

4. Once you see the first front pole at about rear bumper level, put the steering wheel on full lock to the extreme right.

5. Wait until you see the rear third pole in your wing mirror (when coming in from the left, it's the left wing mirror); when this happens, straighten up by turning the steering wheel back one and a half or two turns to the left so that you are going in diagonally.

6. When you see the first front pole in front of the wing mirror (right mirror if you're coming in from the left, put the steering wheel on full lock to the left.

7. Keep reversing until you are about straight, level with the kerb.

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8. Don't knock any of the poles or mount the kerb at any time or you'll fail instantly.

If the bay you want to get in to is to your left, just do the opposite of everything above:

1. Mirror, blind spot left and indicate left.

2. Do your full observation; mirror, right blind spot, mirror, left blind spot, and mirror.

3. Start going in reverse slowly, and immediately do an opposite blind spot check (blind spot right).

4. Once you see the first front pole in the corner of the left rear passenger window, put the steering wheel on full lock to the extreme left.

5. Wait until you see the rear third pole in your wing mirror (when coming in from the right, it's the right wing mirror), when this happens, straighten up by turning the steering wheel back one and a half or two turns to the right so that you are going in diagonally.

6. When you see the first front pole in the far left of the windscreen, put the steering wheel on full lock to the right.

7. Keep reversing until you are about straight, level with the kerb.

"You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said 'Parking Fine."

— Tommy Cooper

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Anti-Valentine

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