How to Park on the Street

July 18, 2023

How to Park on the Street

So, you just passed your driving test and are already cruising the open road.

But there is one thing still giving you the cold sweats, i.e., how to park on the street. Well, it does sound pretty basic, but honestly, when trying to get a car into a space that seems only marginally bigger than a bread box, it suddenly becomes “mission impossible”. But there is a fix, or, let’s say, fixes,” whether you are a beginner or an intermediate driver.

How to park a car on the street

1. Guage the space

First off, you need to gauge whether your car can actually fit into the space. Unless you are driving a monster truck, you will not struggle. But, generally speaking, your car should fit into a space that is at least one and a half times its length.

If you are unsure, there is no shame in getting out of the car to measure the gap. It is even less embarrassing than wedging your vehicle into a spot that is too small and having to be towed out.

2. Position your car parallel to the car in front

Once you find a spot, you need to line up your car. Position your car parallel to the car in front of the parking space. Make sure you have about 2 to 3 feet between your car and the other car.

The rear of your car should be aligned with the rear of the other car. This will give you enough space to make the turn into the spot.

3. Make the maneuver

Now, you are in the perfect position. This is where the fun of parking on the street begins. Check your mirrors for oncoming traffic. Once the coast is clear, put your car in reverse, and turn your wheel to the right. As your car starts to go into the space, keep an eye on the car in front of you to ensure you're not getting too close.

When the front of your car clears the back of the car next to you, quickly turn your wheel to the left. This will straighten your car up and get it perfectly in line with the curb.

Though you are in a spot, the question is, “Are you in the right spot?” You should be about 12-18 inches from the curb. If you're too far away, just carefully pull forward a bit, cut the wheel to the right, and back up until you're closer to the curb. Just make sure not to curb your wheels.

If you are parking on a hill, there is an additional step you need to follow. Position your car close to the curb. With your car in place, hold the brake and shift the car into neutral. Depending on the hill's slope, turn the steering wheel (and thus the tires) to the left for uphill parking or to the right for downhill. Release the brake and let the car roll until the front tires rest against the curb. Now, shift the car into the park and engage the parking brake.

4. Make sure you can exit the car

Now that you are perfectly parked, you should think about how you are going to get out. If there is plenty of space, then no worries. But if you're sandwiched in, you want to leave your car in a position where you can easily get out later. This might mean not pulling fully up to the car in front of you if you have a little extra space.

Before you walk away, be sure that you are legally parked. Are there any parking signs, or yellow or red lines on the curb? Is it street cleaning day? Are you in a permit zone? Are you too close to a fire hydrant or a crosswalk? Make sure to check for all these things before leaving your car.

Also, you want to be sure that your parked vehicle is not exposed to getting hit by another car. It can be particularly frustrating if someone hit your parked car and left without a note containing their information. That is why you need to be careful where you park your car to avoid such a hurtful circumstance.

Final Thoughts

Once certain that you are in the clear, do not forget to lock your car. It might seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people forget about the hustle and bustle of city life. Take a quick photo of the street name or landmarks if you are in a new area. This can help you locate your car later on.
So, there you have it. With these steps in mind, street parking doesn't need to be the pulse-quickening, palm-sweating activity it once was. Just remember to take your time, check your surroundings, and above all, stay calm. And soon enough, you will master parallel parking with finesse.

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