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A Different Angle on Parallel Parking - The Private Driving Instructor's Guide

There are plenty of articles and videos out there talking about how to parallel park, all touting a variety of quick and effective methods to get it done right. One quick Internet search will yield hundreds of tips and tricks and suggestions for easy parking fixes. Conversely, there is little talk about why we should learn to parallel park.

Parallel Parking

It seems that parallel parking has become a dying art. It is reserved only for a few minutes of agony at the road test and then it is forgotten forever, unpracticed, unapplied, and never perfected. One by one, states are dropping parallel parking from their road tests as vehicles become larger and smarter and those parking spaces become wasted real estate. But let’s consider why parallel parking was ever put on the road tests in the first place; within that one daunting maneuver are multiple subsets of important driving skills. In breaking down those subsets, we find the hidden gems of driving excellence:

  • Hand-eye-foot coordination: some people come by some or all of this naturally, but many do not. Parallel parking exercises your timing and coordination 

  • Accurate judgment: most adolescent brains have not completely developed the ability to judge distances, especially with different speeds applied, so it is an excellent training tool for teen and young adult drivers

  • Knowledge of your vehicle: turning radius, vehicle dimensions, location of bumpers and tires in relation to other objects, coasting speed, the relationship between steering wheel placement and front tire direction, and sensitivity of the pedals are all necessary factors

  • Increased comfort level in your own skill set and driving environment: confident drivers tend to be more assertive and decisive, which make them safer and more predictable in traffic

  • Knowing how to plan ahead and execute the plan: being able to remember a series of instructions and execute them in order, to completion, is a good cognitive exercise for anyone. Thinking ahead while driving is crucial for all drivers

  • Optimized visualization: 360° awareness around the vehicle, knowing exactly where the curb or edge of the road is, and visualizing correctly where the vehicle is really placed are all necessary to keep both the driver and vehicle safe

In a world where parallel parking is becoming obsolete, there is still undeniable value in this aged skill. It is worth learning for the sake of the maneuver and not just to get through a road test. If you are a veteran driver, turn off that parking-assist technology for a while and brush up on parallel parking. You’ll see your other skills shine as a result. If you want to learn to parallel park like a pro, contact a private driving instructor near you, Athens Driving Prep is here to help!