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Safety Tip: Parallel Parking Without Dings or Drama

September 01, 2016

VIDEO: How to Parallel Park

Parallel parking is one of those activities, like public speaking or visiting the dentist, which some people dread and avoid at all costs. But in busy urban environments, such avoidance might mean arriving late to an important business meeting or customer appointment.

For someone driving a vehicle equipped with park assist technology, this sort of phobia is no longer a concern. Technology has come to the rescue. But what if your parallel parking skills need work and your vehicle isn’t equipped with such driver assistance tech? The best approach then is to break down the parallel parking process into individual steps and practice in a stress-free environment. An industrial park on a Saturday or Sunday might be a good place for that.

Esurance recommends these eight steps:

Step 1: Find a space that’s at least 4 to 6 feet longer than your ride.

This will allow plenty of room for both your vehicle and those around you. By remembering these parallel parking dimensions, you’ll prevent dents and scrapes while you straighten out your vehicle (later in the process).

Step 2: Use your turn signal.

Turning on your signal lets the drivers behind you know what’s up, so they can give you plenty of space (and hopefully some patience). With parallel parking, distance matters. After all, it’s something you don't really want an audience for.

Step 3: Align your vehicle with the one in front of the space you want.

This is key in making sure your parallel park is on point. Since it’s hard to correct a parallel park once a mistake has been made, you need to start off on the right foot (or shall we say, wheel?).

Step 4: Double-check your blind spots.

Don’t just rely on your mirrors — turn your entire body and head to make sure there are no obstacles in your way.

Step 5: Start backing into the space.

Once you know your path is clear, begin slowly backing into the space and turn the wheel hard to the right. Be aware of your surroundings, including your proximity to the cars around you.

Step 6: Turn your steering wheel the opposite direction.

When your front seat lines up with the front car’s rear bumper, turn your wheel the other direction to start straightening out.

Step 7: Back into the space (slowly, now) and start straightening out your vehicle.

Allow yourself and other vehicles enough room to transition out of the space once it’s time to leave. Your vehicle should end up about 6 inches from the curb once your parallel park is complete.

Step 8: Give yourself a pat on the back.

To get a better feel for the process, you can watch an Esurance video that depicts and further explains the steps. Just click on the photo or link below the headline to access the video.

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