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How to parallel park like a pro

How to parallel park like a pro

Parallel parking is probably one of the most dreaded types of parking, and it’s often made worse when there are cars behind you, or when there are bystanders watching to see how many turns it will take before you can get into a parking bay safely and comfortably.

Next time you have to parallel park, time yourself to see how long it takes you and how many manoeuvres you need to make before you get into the space. Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options, says there are a number of reasons people find it difficult to parallel park. “It’s quite a technical manoeuvre, which you will only really get right once you practice, and with practice comes confidence. After all, humans aren’t designed to go backwards and then on top of that there’s the worry of damaging your car, or someone else’s.”

Thankfully, parking is getting easier thanks to new technology. Many new cars now come equipped with parking sensors and reverse cameras which could all lead to an accident-free parking experience. However, if you are one of those people who would rather keep looking for a parking than taking the spot that requires parallel parking, you could have ‘parallelophobia’.

This step by step guide will help you parallel park with ease: 

Getting ready

  • Position your car so that you are parallel to the car parked in front of the empty space. Your rear wheel should be in line with that car’s rear bumper.
  • Indicate that you’re turning.
  • Check your rear-view mirror and side mirrors. Once everything is clear and you’re sure there are no cars in your blindspot, put your car in reverse.

 Parking

  • Slowly reverse your car alongside the parked car until just after your shoulder passes the other car’s back bumper. Start turning your steering wheel to the side you’re parking (most likely left in South Africa, unless you’re on a one-way road).
  • Slowly straighten your steering wheel as you continue to move backwards.
  • Continue to check mirrors and your front windshield to ensure you’re not about to hit a car or a pole.
  • When the car behind you is positioned in the middle of your rear-view mirror, brake.
  • Straighten up if necessary – you might need to go forward or back so that you’re aligned, and you’re as close to the curb as possible.

Exiting

  • Put your car in reverse and back up towards the car behind you as close as is safely possible without bumping it.
  • Turn your steering wheel to the right, indicate that you’re turning and put your car into drive. 
  • Check for traffic and blind spots in the line you’re about to enter.
  • Slowly drive out. If you feel you don’t have enough space, then put your car into reverse and back out a little, taking care not to bump the curb or any poles that are on the side.
  • Put your car into drive, and slowly exit the parking.

Good to know

“Not surprisingly, parallel parking often results in minor bumps and scratches on your car, which would impact your insurance if you were to claim for them. This is why we recommend that drivers invest in Scratch and Dent plans, which provides cover in the event of minor chips, scratches, dents and interior damage to the vehicle. It enables you to protect the exterior and interior of your car, keeping your car in showroom condition and ensuring a better resale value if you one day sell your car,” advises Smit.

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